It’s a new day for the Presidio La Bahía, a National Historic Landmark near Goliad. Despite the Presidio’s importance—historians consider it the world’s finest example of a Spanish frontier fort—the site has lacked the resources to showcase its rich history until recently. Last month marked the completion of a three-and-a-half-year, $500,000 museum-redesign project—funded by the Presidio La Bahía Foundation—that promises to lure visitors from across the country.

“The Presidio has a big story to tell,” says site director Newton Warzecha. “It isn’t just about the Goliad Massacre—which took place here three weeks after the Alamo fell—and the Texas Revolution, but also about the Spanish Colonial and Mexican periods and the tumultuous time leading up to the revolution. To give you an idea of the scope we’re talking about, the Presidio dates to 1721, and nine flags have flown over this area, not six. The fort’s Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, which
was completed in 1779, is one of the oldest churches in the country; services are still held there today.”

Among the improvements: new signage throughout the property and a wheel-chair-acces-sible entrance in front of the former officer’s quarters, which houses the muse-um. Inside, a viewing room near the gift shop offers a 15-minute vi-deo orien-ta-tion. Visitors can then proceed through the ex—hibits, which have been reorganized so that each room represents a different chronological period. New display cabinets exhibit selected items from the Presidio’s collection of 54,694 artifacts—all found on site—including Spanish Colonial bits and bridles and a rare shako plate from a Mexican military cap.

Presidio La Bahía presents living-history events throughout the year and offers limited overnight lodging in the former officer’s quarters. Call 361/645-3752;

From the July 2010 issue

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