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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Newly Restored Fannin Battleground Reopens

By Bryan McAuley, Site Manager

On Sunday, June 24, area residents and supporters of historic preservation celebrated the reopening of the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site. The site had been closed almost a year for the construction of a new restroom facility, restoration of the 1928 bandstand, design and installation of new interpretive panels inside the bandstand structure, a new site entry way, installation of new picnic tables and grill, and conservation of ceremonial elements at the site. In addition, interpretive panels were added to the grounds to inform visitors about the history of the site and its subsequent memorialization.

New entry-way to site
Historic flags display greeted attendees on June 24
The Fannin Battleground site marks the location near Coleto Creek where Fannin and his men were forced to surrender when surrounded by Mexican soldiers on an open plain. The troops were attempting to retreat from Presidio La Bahia (called Fort Defiance) to Victoria on March 19, 1836 when they were overtaken by the advancing Mexican forces. Believing they had negotiated a conditional surrender, the men were marched back to the presidio and held prisoner. Ultimately, Mexican Gen. Santa Anna ordered their mass execution, carried out on Palm Sunday, March 27. The Fannin site is one of three major Texas Revolution-era battlegrounds, along with the Alamo and San Jacinto, preserved and memorialized.

Brazoria Militia, Company 3 Austin’s Battalion
presented cannon crew demonstrations
At the reopening event, attendees browsed the new exhibits and enjoyed the restored bandstand. Speakers on the program included State Rep. Geanie Morrison, Goliad County Judge David Bowman, former Victoria Advocate columnist and area folklorist/historian Henry Wolff, Jr., Goliad County Historical Commission (CHC) member Georgia Lee Swickheimer, and Texas Historical Commission (THC) Executive Director Mark Wolfe.

Colors were presented by American Legion Post 193 of Goliad, and Pastor Anthony Franklin of Union Baptist Church in Fannin led the invocation. The Goliad CHC provided refreshments for attendees, coordinated by Chairman Bil Montague and Commissioner Myra Heard, whose grandfather was a former site superintendent for approximately 40 years. Louis McMillan, owner of McMillan’s BBQ of Fannin, also donated food for attendees. Adding to the festivities were Tom Green, who displayed a collection of historic Texas flags, and the Brazoria Militia, Company 3 – Austin’s Battalion, who provided a living history interpretive station and a cannon crew to fire ceremonial rounds in honor of Fannin and his men.

Reopening ceremony at Fannin Battleground
THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe addresses the crowd
State Rep. Geanie Morrison, local author Henry Wolff, Jr., Goliad CHC member Georgia Lee Swickheimer, and Tim Von Dohlen, former state representative,
address the crowd at the Fannin Battleground reopening
Preparing to present colors, America Legion Post 193
Pastor Anthony Franklin offers invocation
Goliad County Judge David Bowman welcomes attendees
The extensive projects completed prior to the reopening event involved several partners. Contract architects on the project were Fisher Heck, Inc. represented by Lewis Fisher and Robert Lee. Structural engineers supporting the project were Calvetti & Associates, Professional Engineers, Inc., represented by Lawrence Calvetti. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering was provided by CNG Engineering, represented by Sharad V. Paranjape, Steven Glenn, and Jerry Caballero. Civil engineering on the project was provided by Urban Engineering, represented by Ryan E. Wessels. The project contractor was D. Wilson Construction Company represented by project managers Bill Wilson, Tim Bentley, and David Musch and site superintendent Bryan Knowles.

Restored 1928 bandstand and exterior panel
Goliad CHC offered refreshments at the covered picnic area
The new exhibit installation involved the work of designers Content Design Collaborative represented by Edward Malouf and Carol Leib. Exhibit fabrication and installation was conducted by Custom Creations Exhibits and Environments represented by Greg Dykes.

Visitors enjoy the new exhibits inside the restored bandstand
Restored gate
THC staffers involved with the project were Chief Architect Glenn Reed, Project Design Assistant David Henners, Interpretive Planner Hal Simon, and Sites Supervisor Brett Cruse. THC field staff included Chris Elliott and Bryan McAuley, site managers, and John Justice, maintenance supervisor. Of special note were the maintenance staffers who contributed to preparing the site for reopening in the last weeks of the project, including Glen Korth from Fort Lancaster State Historic Site, Efrem Hill from Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, and Dusty Fritts from Levi Jordan Plantation State Historic Site.

Fannin Battleground is located in southeast Texas, approximately 90 miles north of Corpus Christi and 100 miles southeast of San Antonio. The site is part of the Texas Independence Trail Region.

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