Alamo Village, Texas

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    The Alamo
    was filmed here


    (Click on photos for enlargements)

    Alamo Village is a movie set and was untill 2009
    a tourist attraction north of Brackettville, Texas, United States,
    It can be found just north of Brackettville itself, on Route 674.
    It was once Texas' most active and versatile movie set
    and also one of the largest and most complete
    (no false fronts here) backlots in the world.

    The full-sized facsimile, which took two years to complete,
    used the original plans,
    the traditional adobe techniques and – without any apparent irony –
    a largely Mexican workforce of 5,000.
    It was the first movie location built in Texas',
    and It was claimed at the time
    to be the biggest movie set outside Hollywood

    Built for John Wayne's The Alamo,
    Alamo Village has played host to more than 200 major feature films,
    TV movies, mini-series,documentaries, commercials, and music videos.
    Barbarosa with Willie Nelson, Lonesome Dove
    with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones,
    The Good Old Boys, starring Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones,
    and Matt Damon, Bad Girls with Andie MacDowell
    and Drew Barrymore and the modern day millennial comedy thriller,
    The Bullfighter with Willem Defoe have all been
    filmed here.

    The set was built by rancher and businessman
    James T. "Happy" Shahan of Brackettville,
    who in 1995 was named the "Father of the Texas movie industry"
    by Governor George W. Bush.

    Why Kinney County?
    because Shahan convinced John Wayne's
    Batjac Productions to film The Alamo here.

    John Wayne’s lumbering epic, a long, long way from the historical truth,
    actually began filming in Mexico – there’s not much of the real Alamo left
    – but this proved too expensive.

    Even so, at $7,500,000, The Alamo was the costliest movie made at the time.

    The production was closed down and restarted at Brackettville on Highway 90,
    about 100 miles west of San Antonio toward Del Rio, West Texas,
    where Wayne leased 400 acres of a 22,000 acre ranch belonging to one
    JT ‘Happy’ Shahan, and the Alamo was rebuilt.

    Shahan began building the set
    on his ranch in September, 1957 for Wayne,
    who had tried for years to make a movie about the
    Battle of the Alamo for Republic Pictures,
    before finally breaking away to form Batjac Productions.

    Filming in Bracketville began in August, 1959.

    Since, hundreds of other production companies
    have used our one-of-a-kind set located in the middle
    of a 30 square mile working ranch.

    (Click on photo for enlargement)

    The Set
    Originally the set was to be facades of the front and sides of the buildings.
    However, Wayne ran out of money
    and called a halt to construction.
    Shahan agreed to continue working while Wayne raised more money,
    if Wayne would agree to building full sets with four walls, floor and roofs.
    Wayne signed on to the deal.

    (Click on Photo for enlargement)

    The set includes a full-scale re-creation of the Alamo
    compound as it would have appeared in 1836
    (the real Alamo is in the middle of downtown San Antonio, Texas
    and is surrounded by modern buildings).
    The set also includes a representation of the village of
    San Antonio de Béxar of the same time period.
    The building of the set required over 1.5 million adobe bricks,
    14 miles of gravel road and a 4,000-foot runway.
    The full scale set for The Alamo.

    Shahan preserved the set after the end of the 1960 production and,
    over the years, over a dozen films about the Alamo
    have been shot there.
    In addition, over 100 other western movies as well as documentaries,
    music videos and commercials have been shot using
    various parts of the set.
    (The 2004 Disney movie about the Alamo was not shot on this set,
    but in a new set built in Dripping Springs, Texas.)
    Frank Thompson, a film historian, noted that each production changed the set in some way, big or small, and that the changes appear
    in each new movie about the Alamo,
    documenting the current view of authenticity over time.

    After the filming of the 1960 version of The Alamo,
    the village has served primarily as a tourist attraction.
    For several decades, it served as a significant local employer
    and element of the economy of Brackettville.
    In addition to the replica of The Alamo, the village included a cantina
    and restaurant, a trading post, an Indian store, a church, a jail,
    a blacksmith shop, the John Wayne Western Museum,
    several museums, and a celebrity gallery.
    Alamo Village also maintained a collection of antique tools,
    vehicles and other period props, as well as a herd of longhorn cattle.
    During the summer, live music and stage shows performed frequently,
    and over Labor Day weekend the Labor Day Horse Races brought
    crowds to the village.
    Alamo Village was open to visitors year round except for December 21-26.

    And it was still there, until 2009, as a tourist attraction as well as a location
    for many subsequent movies. Extensions acquired over the years
    include a section of San Antonio which metamorphoses over its length
    to become Fort Worth of the 1880s.

    In 2004, the set was put up for sale by its owner, Virginia Shahan,
    Happy Shahan's widow, for $3.0 million.
    Virginia Shahan died on June 23, 2009 at the age of 93.
    Alamo Village was closed to the public while her estate evaluated
    the feasibility of the Village's continued operation in the midst of the late-2000s recession.
    Alamo Village temporarily re-opened after the death of Virginia Shahan
    but on September 28, 2009, Tulisha Shahan Wardlaw,
    Happy and Virginia's daughter died at the age of 67.

    Alamo Village then closed its doors and removed its website, ending an era.

    Alamo Village reopened briefly for the summer in 2010 with limited hours
    and no shows, stores or restaurants, but closed again within a few months.
    Corpus Christi, Texas business man David Jones is in the process of raising funds
    to reopen the site

    Video of the abandoned Alamo Village



    Selected Filmography
    The Alamo (1960) - Produced, directed and starring John Wayne
    Two Rode Together (1961) - starring James Stewart
    Bandolero! (1968) - starring James Stewart, Raquel Welch and Dean Martin
    Barbarosa (1982) - starring Willie Nelson
    Good As Gold (1983 music video) by Red Rockers
    Uphill All the Way (1986)
    Gone to Texas (aka Houston: The Legend of Texas (November, 1986)
    The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory (1987)
    Alamo: The Price of Freedom (1988) - Imax
    Lonesome Dove (1988) (TV) - starring Robert Duvall
    Travis (1991) (film/video) - starring Benton Jennings
    Bad Girls (1994)
    Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997) - a Chinese martial arts western
    Bullfighter (2000)
    Jericho (2000)
    Call of the Wildman (2013)

    For more information:-
    Alamo Village-Wikipedia

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 43 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • WaynamoJim appropriately shared the following in the General RIP Announcements thread, but it also seemed proper to put the information here, in the Alamo Village thread, as well. Thanks, Jim, for letting us know!

    Just wanted to mention that Virginia Shahan, widow of Happy Shahan and owner of Alamo Village in Brackettville Texas, passed away last night. I don't know how old she was, near 90 or so, I think but, I guess last week, she fell and broke her leg and was to go through extensive rehab and but, she just wanted to go home and be in her own bed. When she got there, she said, "it's about time". She died later in the night.
    Of course, as we all know, it was her husband Happy Shahan, who convinced Duke to build his Alamo and San Antonio set on his ranch and to film The Alamo there. Afterwards the Shahans turned it into a continuing movie set and tourist attraction. Virginia had been running the place since Happy died some years back. And in the last few years she put up Alamo Village for sale. Supposedly, she had a buyer who planned to renovate the Alamo compound back to it's original look from when Duke built it. He was going to put in electricity and new bathrooms and plumbing and add some new tourist attractions to it, like a train from the main entrance to the village. But that was over a year ago and there hasn't been much said about it lately.

  • I just found out some sad, sad news folks. The management and owners of Alamo Village have announced that the Village is closing it's doors to the public very soon. With the passing of Virginia Shahan, they say they need to do some restructuring and make some changes. I guess the economy is not helping the fact that they're losing money on it and need to come up with something to keep it going. A couple of years ago, there was supposed to be a buyer for it who was going to renovate the Alamo itself to it's original look and update the utilities and bring in some other attractions to bring in tourists. But, so far, nothing has come of it and maybe nothing will. They're hoping to reopen sometime in the future and want to maintain their connections in the film industry and do group tours and keep doing the trail drives they started a couple of years ago. I hope they succeed. I know it's only a film set and tourist stop but, Duke Wayne built it and it does have a great history.

  • I wish I had noticed this thread last week. I posted a message in the Dukes Westerns section under The Alamo about Alamo Village closing it's gates in the wake of the passing of Virginia Shahan. If someone with good computer knowledge( anybody but me) could move my post over here, more people might see it. In the latest, Tulisha Shahan Wardlaw, daughter of Virginia and Happy, says they don't know what the future is going to hold for Alamo Village but, they are hoping to get things straightened out and see where they stand.

    You can find out more info here, and click on Alamo Village Brackettville.

  • I did see that they were closeing the John Wayne Alamo. How much and how long do they think it will take to re-open it? I feel very lucky to have gone to the site and was in seventh heaven, or course I am sure that anybody that loves John Wayne, this is a must see site. I am really hopeing they get it going again for other people to see and remember him, since it was his dream to make the picture. When I was there I was very touched just to be there and was luck enough to be there on a not so busy day. The reinactors spent several hours with my husband and I talking about the movies they were in and the actors themselves, I have never been anywhere were I felt more welcome in my life. They even sang me songs from Rio Bravo, which is one of my favorite westerns. I just hope it gets done and would like to, in some way help, so were do we go to contribute? I think keeping it open is VERY important, in keeping his memory alive.

  • Thanks Chester,
    I did see on line that the John Wayne Alamo is closed now. I am very concerned and hope that maybe somebody can do something about this. I would hate for the new generations to not see this site, considering it was so important to the Duke.
    Maybe we can all get a petition going and send it to the surviving family members or however owns it now. I don't know, I think something needs to be done it is such an important place!!!

  • My daughter's and I visited Alamo Village about 8 years ago, and loved every minute! We pretty much had the place to ourselves that day, and really took our time checking out every nook & cranny. From the film, it was hard to judge where some of the action took place within the "fort", so it was nice to be able to finally see how it was laid out. We had an unforgettable time!

  • [FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]I found the following information, which I thought might be of interest. Obviously, we had already heard some already, but the following gives a little more detail, and possibly a little hope.[/FONT]


    [FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Alamo Village Closes Its Gates - the End of an Era[/FONT]

    [FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]
    With the passing of Texas Icon, Virginia F. Webb Shahan, a difficult business decision has been made by family members. Alamo Village is closed to the general public. Our gates have been open to the visiting public and to the film industry for fifty years. At this time, we choose to close the gates of Alamo Village in order to reconstruct management and possibly redirect our efforts toward new positive goals. The future possibilities for this historical movie set are many. At present time, managers and owners continue with sound decision making even in the midst of a troubled economy. Our future goal includes the pursuit of continued business relations within the film industry, producing more and even larger trail drives and promoting individual group tours. As decisions are finalized, announcements will be made to the general public.
    [FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]“To the multitudes of visitors, businesses, employees and dear friends who have contributed to the success of Alamo Village throughout these five decades, we offer our heartfelt gratitude and a sincere Texas thank you.” God Bless us one and all.[/FONT]

    Click here for more information, and to see some pictures of the Bracketville Alamo site.

  • I'am very happy I was able to get there before it closed.

    Its is sad, and coupled with this,
    the Roy Roger's Museum closing it's doors,
    it is, I'm affraid, a sign of the times.
    that the folks who would support these treasures,
    are slowly moving on!

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • . . . that the folks who would support these treasures, are slowly moving on!

    Or even worse, dying off. Of course, many are simply checking their wallets and finding them thinner than in years past.

    That's one reason it's so important to introduce the younger generations to these great stars and their legacies.

    Chester :newyear:

  • Or even worse, dying off. Of course, many are simply checking their wallets and finding them thinner than in years past.

    That's one reason it's so important to introduce the younger generations to these great stars and their legacies.

    Chester :newyear:

    I tried to put it more pleasant,
    I don't like to think of us 'dying off'!!
    One thing about it Jim,
    this site sure makes the younger ones welcome!!

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • It is sad, . . . and . . . , I'm afraid, a sign of the times.
    that the folks who would support these treasures, are slowly moving on!

    Or even worse, dying off.

    I tried to put it more pleasant,
    I don't like to think of us 'dying off'!

    Well, I don't like to think of us 'dying off' and I see what you mean about sidestepping that little issue . . . :wink_smile:.

    And as you say, we seem to be cultivating a real good group of JW fans from the younger generation to carry on the banner! Lt. Brannigan and Robbie, you got that?

    Chester :newyear:

  • John Wayne never made another film at Alamo Village, after the Alamo. I always wondered why, and thought maybe it was due to just bad memories over the money he lost. But recently I read a short note Duke had written to a fan. In it he that hinted at some possible hurt feelings on his side over the amount of improvements he made to the Shahan property in production of the film. And (my impression was) that he felt he wasn't given some type of compensation for these improvements. He did state in the letter he had had all intentions of continuing relations with AV and doing more films there, but due to this problem, he never went back.
    Does anyone have any further knowledge or info regarding Duke never filming there again?

  • It hasn't been official yet, but they are hoping to have a 50th anniversary showing of The Alamo, and bash, in October of this year.