Texas Historical Commission
From April 2013 to November 2014, the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) conducted archaeological monitoring and test excavations at the site of the 1722 Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, also known in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as the Plaza de Armas Buildings (Vogel Belt Complex) within Military Plaza in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The project was performed for Ford, Powell and Carson, Architects and Planners, Inc. under contract with the City of San Antonio in anticipation of renovations and improvements to the Plaza de Armas Buildings (Vogel Belt Complex) to serve as offices and studios for the City of San Antonio. The complex is listed as contributing to the Main and Military Plaza National Register of Historic Places District, with the buildings listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). In addition to the above, the property is owned by the City of San Antonio. Compliance with the Antiquities Code of Texas was required. As such, the State Antiquities Code and Chapter 35 of the San Antonio Local Government Code that require coordination with the City Office of Historic Preservation and the Texas Historical Commission Divisions of Archaeology and Architecture govern the undertakings. CAR, therefore, conducted the work under Texas Antiquities Committee Permit No. 6526. Dr. Steve A. Tomka served as the Principal Investigator for the majority of the fieldwork, the initial analysis, and the description of materials collected. Kristi Nichols served as the Project Archaeologist during this initial monitoring and testing, assisted by Lindy Martinez. Both Dr. Tomka and Ms. Nichols left UTSA in 2014, and Dr. Raymond Mauldin assumed the Principal Investigator role for the project. Clinton McKenzie and Leonard Kemp were the Project Archaeologists for the final phases of monitoring, as well as for assembling the final report. Leonard Kemp oversaw additional test excavation. Trinomial 41BX2088 was assigned to the location.
Principal activities during the project included monitoring trenches on the complex’s exterior, monitoring soil removal in sections of the interior, and hand excavations of a series of units in the basement. These basement excavations produced a variety of materials. CAR staff documented eight features, including several trash pits, recovered a variety of Spanish Colonial, Native American, and European/English ceramics, along with faunal material, chipped stone tools and debitage, and construction related items. It was concluded that much of this material was intact, and that additional features and midden deposits are present. The project provides direct evidence of materials associated with the Presidio de Bexar, built by the Spanish at this general location in 1722, as well as occupation in this area through the early twentieth century. CAR recommends that prior to any impacts in the basements, or any external impacts greater than 2.0 m in depth at the rear of the Plaza de Armas Buildings (Vogel Belt Complex), a comprehensive, systematic effort to recover significant data be initiated.
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