Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Alamo Stadium part 2

In Alamo Stadium, part one I discussed the many plans and proposals that eventually led to the final approval for a municipal sports facility in San Antonio, Texas.  The funding was provided by the WPA ($370,000) and from revenue bonds issued by San Antonio ISD ($107,000).  The stadium was designed by Phelps, Dewees, and Simmons.  Henry T Phelps designed many prominent buildings and homes in this area (Atascosa County Courthouse and other projects ) were featured previously on this blog. 

During renovation


The nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places states that the stadium's design is consistent with the Art Deco period. The linear entrance canopy of the west (main) entrance and curved pillars are examples of the Art Deco influence.  This entrance is situated at the highest point of the old rock quarry and gives a breath taking view of San Antonio's skyline to the south.  A wide concrete promenade leads up to the entrance from Stadium Drive.

The east entrance, often referred to as the visitor side, is not as impressive as the west entrance. I didn't photograph this, but as you approach the east entrance there is a set of rather steep concrete steps to the left.  If you venture up the steps you arrive at the south entrance where there is also a nice view of downtown as well as an overlook into Highway 281! This entrance has a lower height as it follows the topography of the old quarry along its perimeter.

The crown jewel to me are the four tile murals above the main entrance that depict scenes of sporting events in San Antonio. Henry Wedemeyer, assisted by Leonora Feiler, designed the murals.  Ethel Harris served as the supervisor of the local WPA Arts & Crafts Division and coordinated 60 WPA workers from her Mexican Arts & Crafts studio to create these stunning panels.  Each mural contains 192 tiles and measures five feet high by 13 feet wide; each tile is 6 inches square and 3/4 inch thick. The murals were removed during the renovation and restored before being re-installed.

Ethel Harris' signature maguey craftsman's mark (modified for the WPA) appears in the lower right corner tile of this picture

The City of San Antonio also applied for WPA funding to improve the streets in the surrounding neighborhood of the stadium. Streets were widened and repaved and simultaneously were developed into a new system of more convenient routes to the new Stadium. This was done in anticipation of the vehicles that would be coming on game days to the facility and appeasing the surrounding neighborhoods.

You have to look close to see this marker - it is embedded in the curb in front of this building on North St. Mary's Street.

The marker is partially obscured by subsequent layers of asphalt. It gives a date of 1938-1940.

The opening night game was a double header:  Jefferson vs Corpus Christi followed by Reagan-Houston.  You certainly would not see this today, but the San Antonio Brewing Association (Pearl Beer) was one of local businesses who sponsored advertisements in the paper supporting the new stadium prior to its opening!  And, not surprisingly, traffic that night was a mess taking over an hour for it to clear.  Have you ever been to a football game and didn't have to wait in a lengthy queue of traffic to get out of the stadium?


  1. Great post and pictures! Thank you for finding this jewel and getting the story and photos. Do love the murals!

    1. Thanks! This is one of those things that was right under my nose, but I had to discover for myself! I've been to 2 or 3 high school football games here, but always entered from the "visitor" side and never saw the murals or the full effect of the stadium.