San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History Page: 18
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SAN ANTONIO DE BEXAR.
sees only the stone in the material that has been given a beauty not its own. If
stones ever do cry out, it is when they are alive with this touch of genius.
" Do you not know me; does no voice within
Answer my cry, and say we are akin ?"
But can these desecrators have any kinship with Art ? It is not the Texan
or the Mexican who has done these things. Kendall says, writing of '42,
" though the Texan troops were long quartered here, (San Jose) the stone carv-
ings have not been injured." And this was in wartime when men are more than
usually bent on destruction.
Turn to the foundation plan of San Jose. It will be seen how extensive
these Mission buildings are. They are placed in the northeast corner of the
square, running almost due east and west. " The Mission San Jose consists also
of a large square, and numerous Mexican families still make it their residence.
To the left of the gateway is the granary." So says Kendall. The gateway is
gone to-day. The granary, with its strong and curious flying buttresses and
arched stone roof, is still there and in it families make a home. The road still
enters the Mission Square just at the right of the granary, where the old en-
trance was. Here you are in full view of the facade of the Mission Buildings
with the square spreading out to the right or south of the long main building of
the Mission. The Mexican families still exist in huts erected upon the ruins of
the ramparts of the Mission Square, and in a few years these now hardly to be
defined foundations will have been " improved " from the place. At the south-
western corner of the Mission buildings is a belfry tower, about sixty feet high.
It has four lookout windows and a pyramidical stone roof. Tucked in the angle
made by this tower and the south wall of the large Chapel, is a peculiar round
tower to accommodate the winding stairway of solid hewn wooden steps to the
second story of the belfry tower. From the second story are very curious stairs
or ladders made of solid tree trunks notched and dressed with an axe, leading to
the upper lookout of the tower. Here, are to be had some fine views of the
country. All over the tower chamber's walls are thousands of names of visitors.
Only a small portion of the large stone roof of the main Chapel remains and much
of the north wall has gone, leaving a great ugly gap on this side and
the remnant of the roof very unsafe in appearance. These portions of the Chapel
with its dome fell in with a great crash on a stormy night of December, 1868. To
the south of the main Chapel is a smaller one, the window and carving of which
were referred to above. This is roofed by three domes, the tops of the enclosing
walls being serrated, all quite in Moorish style. The entrance to this Chapel is
from the east from an ante-chamber or wing of the cloisters. The arch and side-
stones of the entry door are beautifully sculptured, and here, there still remain,
much chipped, once finely carved, cedar double doors, and although so badly dam-
aged they suggest to one's mind what the beauty of the front doors or gates at the
facade of the main Chapel might have been. In this little Chapel services are
still occasionally held. Its altar is decked with gaudy patchwork of a distinctly
Mexican design, and many a little trumpery, by way of offering is placed there by
the simple and believing women folk of the place. Some of the details of the
capitals of the pillars, the font and other carving of this little Chapel are illustrated
in this book. There are two ancient Spanish pictures, one hanging each side of the
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Corner, William. San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History, book, 1890; San Antonio, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143549/m1/52/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.