San Jacinto Museum of History

Grand Opening of Special Exhibit A Monumental Experience:Construction of the San Jacinto Memorial Monument

At the San Jacinto Museum of History
One Monument Circle, La Porte, TX 77571
Saturday – August 15    9 a.m. – 6 p.m.


Houston, TX - August 12, 2020 – The San Jacinto Museum of History unveils a special exhibit – A Monumental Experience: Construction of the San Jacinto Memorial Monument.  This exhibit answers the number one question the staff at the museum gets from visitors, “Wow, how did they build this?” Many of your questions will be answered as you explore the people who designed, planned, and built the iconic building that commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto that won the independence of Texas.


Construction began on the San Jacinto Monument, a Texas Centennial project, in 1936 as a Federal relief project that put hundreds of people to work who had been made jobless by the Great Depression, a fact that will resonate with visitors today in light of the current pandemic situation. The construction, the workers, the funding, the artistic design, and the economic impact of the Great Depression and the New Deal will be presented, in a space that runs the full length of the massive base of the building, half of the exhibit gallery space. 


Presented within the building that is its focal point, the exhibit will include construction photos, design drawings, blueprints, models, copies of archival documents, film clips, and artifacts; a highlight of the exhibit will be the plow from 1836 used to break ground for the Monument in 1936. The exhibit will educate visitors about the awe-inspiring building that serves as a memorial to those who fought for Texas' independence.     

Twin steel towers used for Monument construction, March 23, 1937.  Courtesy of W. S. Bellows Construction Corp.

Twin steel towers used for Monument construction, March 23, 1937. Courtesy of W.S. Bellows Construction Corp.

Placing 8000 lb. stone for the outside form. Courtesy of W.S. Bellows Construction Corp.

W. S. Bellows Construction Corporation, who won the bid for the Public Works Administration (PWA) project to build the actual tower, provided a wealth of photographs taken during the Memorial’s construction. The terraces, reflection pool, water well, roads, and a bulkhead along the Ship Channel were all Works Progress Administration projects; the Texas WPA donated construction photos to the San Jacinto Museum of History in 1949 that are part of the exhibit. Other photographs came from archives and libraries, including the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas, Harris County Archives, the Cleveland Public Library, the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, and the National Archives.  Houston Public Library’s Houston Metropolitan Research Center holds the papers of Alfred C. Finn, the Monument’s architect, and a number of photographs, documents, and blueprints in that collection enhance San Jacinto Museum of History’s holdings in the exhibit.


“One of the challenges of an exhibit curator is limiting the contents of an exhibit to fit the space,”noted Lisa Struthers, museum librarian. Ms. Struthers also noted that for this exhibit the museum elected to expand beyond the museum walls with touch-free QR codes that can be photographed with a cell phone and link to oral histories, speeches, folk songs, and additional photographs where there was insufficient space on the walls.


Larry Spasic, president of the San Jacinto Museum of History commented that “We are pleased to add a very special feature to the exhibit which will be a model of the San Jacinto Monument made out of Cordova shell limestone removed from the monument, created by Philip Hoggatt of Carved Stone, Inc., in Dripping Springs.”


The exhibit will be open Wednesdays to Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.          



·         A flat rate of $12 for adults covers all museum venues

·         Children 11 and under are $6 for all museum venues

·         Masks are required for all visitors age 5 and up within the museum.

All visitors must wash or sanitize their hands as they begin their visit to the museum. They are encouraged to do so again before leaving. For convenience, sanitation stations are available throughout the museum. Visitors are encouraged to respect social distancing unless of the same household. Please follow the signage to the northwest door, located on the side facing the reflection pool, which will be our only entrance. The southeast door will be designated as the only exit door. Use of the elevator will be limited to two occupants or six who arrived together. A limit of 15 minutes will be recommended for the Observation Deck. The theatre is open with alternating rows closed to enforce social distancing. Retail operations will be open and will take advantage of zero-contact options for transactions when possible.


Grant Funding for this special exhibit has been received from Dow. Additional funding has been made possible from Humanities Texas and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the CARES Act.



Disclaimer: “Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition, program, Web resource, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.”


About the San Jacinto Museum of History

The San Jacinto Museum of History was created as a steward of history, not only to honor those who fought at the San Jacinto Battlefield and Texas Revolution of 1835 – 1836, but to re-visualize the history of Texas and the Spanish Southwest. The museum is operated by the San Jacinto Museum of History Association – a non-profit organization in association with the Texas Historical Commission. It is a 501(c)3 and receives no state or federal funds.


Your generous donations keep history alive. Consider a museum membership or donating at


The museum will continue to monitor the situation and make appropriate changes to this schedule of opening hours should that be required. Please check for updates.

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