“In future time, then may the pilgrim’s eye see here an obelisk point toward the sky….”
— Anonymous poet
The above prediction was penned in the poem: “Ode to San Jacinto”, even before the Republic of Texas became the State of Texas. Today, the world’s tallest war memorial stands at San Jacinto—15 feet taller than the Washington monument—honoring all those who fought for Texas’s independence.
Immediately after the Battle of San Jacinto, the land—then privately owned—commanded respect from all who walked on its soil. The Texas Veterans Association began planning a formal monument, and the state finally received funding to purchase land in the 1890s.
After years of pushing by the Sons and Daughters of the Republic of Texas, as well as help from President Roosevelt’s Secretary of Commerce Jesse H. Jones—a prominent Houstonian—its proponents raised enough money to build a fitting monument. And the time was right, with San Jacinto’s 100-year anniversary at hand.
The design was the brainchild of architect Alfred C. Finn, engineer Robert J. Cummins, and Jesse H. Jones. Construction ran from 1936 to 1939. With continued support, the San Jacinto Museum of History Association has occupied the facility since its doors first opened.
Its builder was the Warren S. Bellows Construction Company of Dallas and Houston. The monument building alone—apart from its great historical significance—is worth a trip to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. At 570 feet, this Texas giant one of the finest examples of Moderne (Art Deco) architecture in the United States. The monument has been recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The museum is located in the base of the monument, greeting visitors with bronze doors emblazoned with the six flags of Texas. The base is 125 feet square, with text panels highlighting significant events in history leading up to and resulting from the Texas Revolution.
The shaft itself is octagonal, 48 feet at its base, 30 feet at the observation level and 19 feet square at the base of its crowning jewel—a 220-ton star made from stone, steel and concrete. Despite the scale, danger and novelty of the project, not a single life was lost during its construction.