Monday, December 17, 2012

First Automobile

When examining early postcards of Alamo Plaza, there are few clues as to the actual date of the photo. Photos like the one below could date anywhere from 1890 to 1908. A few days ago I notice the automobile parked along the plaza. I am not good at identifying autos but I thought I would do a little research to see when the first autos started to arrive in San Antonio.

Alamo Plaza ca. 1901

Close-up of auto in the above postcard.

The First Auto

I discovered the the first automobile in San Antonio was an unidentified electric auto that arrived in 1899. The first gasoline powered auto was a Haynes-Apperson that arrived in 1901. It was purchased by J. D. Anderson, who was head cashier at City National Bank. The Haynes-Apperson cost $1,795.00, equivalent to about $45,000 today. The automobile in the postcard looks very much like an early Haynes-Apperson, Considering that it was probably the only one of it's kind in San Antonio. I do not think it is to much of a stretch to say that, the auto in the postcard is the same one. It would also stand to reason that, if it is J. D. Anderson's car, then one of the men standing next to it is likely, J. D. Anderson.

Which brings me back to my original topic, which is the date of the photo. Since we know the auto arrived in 1901 and the card was used on Feb. 7, 1907, we now have a better idea of the date. This photo was taken between 1901 and Feb. 1907, although I believe it is closer to 1901. I could just imagine, the owner of the first gas powered auto, bringing it out to a popular public location like this and showing off his new "toy".

For an article on the first autos in San Antonio, see Automobiles in San Antonio

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Alamo Close-up

The Alamo has been photographed for postcards countless times. We the photographer takes a close-up it makes the postcard difficult to date other than by era or postmark. What few changes that occur can be very difficult to attach a date to. The following postcards are a few that show changes and my best guesses on the time frames.

One of the first things you might notice is the wooden structure attached to the left side of the Alamo. This was the Hugo & Schmeltzer Building. This was built in 1877 and was not completely removed until 1912.
Although it was not completely torn down entirely until 1912 some changes can be seen over the years. In the first postcard above, you can see that the crenelated top extent past the from of the Alamo.  In the second postcard below the crenelated top stops at the edge of the Alamo. The earliest postcard I have been able to find with this section removed was dated Oct. 3, 1905. So by this it would I would assume the any postcard with the complete top is from 1905 or earlier and with the incomplete top from 1905 or later.

The next major change that can be seen in the postcards below, taken from a location further back than the previous cards. As you can see the wooden structure, which had covered the entire south and west facing of the stone building, has been almost entirely removed. My best estimation is that this occurred sometime from mid 1910 to possible very early 1911 ( before April). It would remain this was until early 1912.
The Alamo ca. 1911

In early 1912 the remainder of the Hugo & Schmelzer building would be demolished, leaving only the two story stone wall which was believed to be part of the orignial wall of the Alamo. In 1913 the upper level of this wall would be torn down.
The Alamo ca. 1912

The postcard below, postmarked 1917, shows how the Alamo appeared after the second story of the old convento was removed.

The last major change to the front of the Alamo can be seen in the following postcard. In 1935 a lot of improvements were made to the Alamo property and plaza, in preparation for the centennial celebration to be held in 1936. One of the improvement was the addition of the colonnade added the the right side of the Alamo and extending all the way to Crockett Street.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Early Alamo Plaza

Alamo Plaza postcard, Undivided back
Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, Texas
From 1803 until 1876 Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known is the Alamo, was use by military forces of  five different countries, Spain, Mexico, Texas, Confederate States of America and The United States of America. In 1877  the Catholic Church sold the convent part of the Alamo to Honore Grenet for his wholesale grocery business. Mr. Grenet added a crenelated wooden gallery to the front of the existing building. He also add three crenelated wooden turrets complete with wooden cannons, giving the building a medieval fortress appearance. In 1886 the Grenet estate sell the Alamo convent to Charles Hugo, Gustav Schmeltzer and William Heuermann who continue to operate a grocery business at the location. Although the card featured in today's post is not the oldest card in my collection, I it is the oldest photograph of the Alamo and plaza. I believe this photo was taken in the 1890's. The postcard is from the Undivided Back Era 1901 - 1907 but was not used until, March 27, 1908. Published by Paul C. Koeber, New York City.

Below is a close-up, cropped the the postcard above. The Hugo & Schmeltzer is visible and one of the three original gun turrets is still in place.

Enhanced by Zemanta