Local officials, donors and Alamo enthusiasts gathered on the grounds of the historic Spanish mission and fortress compound to celebrate and preview the Alamo Collections Center, the first building of the Alamo redevelopment plan and the newest since the 1950s.
The sneak peek tour Friday included small displays from the Alamo Trust’s growing collection of Alamo and Spanish colonial artifacts, which includes donated items from various collectors, including musician Phil Collins and Bexar County collectors Donald and Louise Yena.
The center will open to the public on March 3 — the day after Texas Independence Day — after finishing touches are made to the building and exhibits are installed, officials said.
Guests marveled while Kolby Lanham, senior researcher and historian for the Alamo, showed off a saber once owned by the late President General Antonio López de Santa Anna, who led the Mexican Army to successfully reclaim the Alamo Mission from Texan forces during the legendary 13-day siege in 1836.
“This was captured at the  Battle of Cerro Gordo during the war with Mexico,” Lanham said. “This and several other items fell into private hands.”
The saber is part of the collection Phil Collins donated.
The two-story, 24,000-square-foot exhibition hall and collections building will allow the Alamo Trust, the historic site’s nonprofit steward, to increase the grounds’ gallery capacity by fivefold, said Alamo CEO Kate Rodgers. “In addition, the new building will house state-of-the-art storage and conservation space for the Alamo Collection.”
The collections will be housed at the Alamo Collections Center until they can be shown in the new visitor center and museum, slated to open in 2026 in renovated historic buildings in Alamo Plaza that previously housed entertainment attractions. After that, the Alamo Collections Center will provide space for traveling exhibitions, educational resources and events.
When complete, the $15 million Alamo Collections Center will be the first major piece of an estimated $388 million overhaul of Alamo Plaza that includes a new visitors center and museum, education center, event hall and other historic interpretations such as the 18-Pounder Losoya House and palisade exhibit and cannon replicas.
Texas Land Commissioner-elect Dawn Buckingham, a former state senator who will take over next year as the first woman to lead the Texas General Land Office, has pledged to find more state funding to complete the Alamo redevelopment plan.
The Alamo Master Plan is a result of a partnership among the City of San Antonio, Texas General Land Office and the Alamo Trust.
“When people leave the Alamo, we don’t want them to say: ‘is that it?'” Rogers said, recalling what former Congressman Will Hurd told her what a successful Alamo plan looked like. “So that’s what we’re on a mission to do. … This is one of the last historic sites in this country to be given its due.”