San Jacinto Monument & Museum

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Must-Visit Historic Sites in Houston/San Jacinto Monument & Museum
VAMONDE Houston
Written By VAMONDE Houston

The San Jacinto Monument is a 567.31 ft column located on the Houston Ship Channel in unincorporated Harris County, Texas, United States, near the city of Houston. The monument is topped with a 220-ton star that commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. The monument, constructed between 1936 and 1939 and dedicated on April 21, 1939, is the world's tallest masonry column and is part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. By comparison, the Washington Monument is 554.612 ft tall, but remains the tallest stone monument in the world. The column is an octagonal shaft topped with a 34 ft Lone Star – the symbol of Texas. Visitors can take an elevator to the monument's observation deck for a view of Houston and the Battleship Texas (see ).

The San Jacinto Museum of History is located inside the base of the monument, and focuses on the history of the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas culture and heritage.

The San Jacinto Battlefield, of which the monument is a part, was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960, and is therefore also automatically listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designated a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1992.

History

In 1856, the Texas Veterans Association began lobbying the state legislature to create a memorial to the men who died during the Texas Revolution. The legislature made no efforts to commemorate the final battle of the revolution until the 1890s, when funds were finally appropriated to purchase the land where the Battle of San Jacinto took place. After a careful survey to determine the boundaries of the original battle site, land was purchased for a new state park east of Houston, in 1897. This became San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas began pressuring the legislature to provide an official monument at the site of the Battle of San Jacinto. The chairman of the Texas Centennial Celebrations, Jesse H. Jones, provided an idea for a monument to memorialize all Texans who served during the Texas Revolution. Architect Alfred C. Finn provided the final design, in conjunction with engineer Robert J. Cummins. In March 1936, as part of the Texas Centennial Celebration, ground was broken for the San Jacinto Monument. Construction began on April 21 1936, the Centennial anniversary date of the Battle of San Jacinto, and ended on the same day three years later with a cornerstone laying ceremony on April 21 1937. Jesse H Jones was in attendance along with the commencement ceremony in 1939 when he and Sam Houston's last surviving son, Andrew Jackson Houston and others officially dedicated the monument. The project was completed in exactly three years costing $1.5 million. The funds were provided by both the Texas legislature and the United States Congress.

From its opening, the monument has been run by the nonprofit association, the San Jacinto Museum of History Association. In 1966, the monument was placed under the control of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Parks Department allows the history association to continue its oversight of the monument.

The monument was renovated in 1983. In 1990, the base of the monument was redone to contain the San Jacinto Museum of History and the Jesse H. Jones Theatre for Texas Studies. The exterior of the monument underwent a further renovation in 1995, and the entire structure was renovated from 2004 through 2006.

Description

The San Jacinto monument is an octagonal column. It was built by W.S. Bellows Construction and primarily constructed of reinforced concrete. Its exterior was faced with Texas limestone, from a quarry near the Texas State Capitol. It stands 567.31 ft tall and is the tallest monument column in the world. It is 9.6 ft taller than the next tallest, the Juche Tower in North Korea.

The base of the monument contains a 15625 sqft museum and a 160-seat theater. The base is decorated with eight engraved panels depicting the history of Texas. The bronze doors which allow entry into the museum show the six flags of Texas. At the point where the shaft rises from the base, it is only 48 ft square (2304 sqft). The shaft narrows to only 30 ft square (900 sqft) at the observation deck. At the top of the monument is a 220-ton, 34 ft high star, representing the Lone Star of Texas. A 1750 by reflecting pool shows the entire shaft.

As of 2006, approximately 250,000 people visited the monument each year, including 40,000 children on school trips.

Did you know?

An inscription on the monument tells the story of the birth of Texas from its early colonial history through a series of revolutions that began in 1829 to the Alamo. It documents the fall of the Mexican garrison at Goliad and Texas' declaration of independence at Washington-on-theBrazos on March 2, 1836.

Gallery

Cover image: "San Jacinto Monument" by Jerry and Pat Donaho licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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