The site served as one of two major garrisons – the other being the Alamo – during the Texas Revolution. It is perhaps best known as the site of the Goliad Massacre, where after the fall of the Alamo, a group of Texians under the command of Col. James Fannin surrendered to Mexican troops and were later executed as they were marched from the fort.
Warzecha’s leadership has resulted in collections management policies for the facility’s artifacts, dating from the Spanish Colonial era through the Republic of Texas. During more than 22 years as director of Presidio La Bahia, Warzecha oversaw the analysis of many archeological excavations that occurred at the site, and helped secure funding for a report on the findings. He has improved site attendance through youth outreach programs and established an endowment to assist with funding school trips to the site.
Warzecha also worked to develop the 2001 documentary “Presidio La Bahia and Its Place in Texas History,” which appeared on PBS. In addition to overseeing exhibit improvements at the site, he facilitated its designation as a State Antiquities Landmark, ensuring greater protection for the buildings, grounds, and collections. Warzecha also formed partnerships with established organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Summerlee, Brown and Kathryn O’Connor foundations to secure funding for continued educational projects about the site.
The award, presented by THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe at Presidio La Bahia, recognizes an individual in the museum field for significant achievement in the areas of historical interpretation, museum education, and conservation of collections and/or community involvement. Named for former THC Chairman John L. Nau III, the award includes a monetary stipend for the honoree’s museum.
“It is with great respect that we recognize Newton Warzecha for his vision and leadership in protecting and caring for this significant site in Texas history,” Wolfe said. “From the popular Goliad Massacre Living History Program to the Masses held weekly at the Lady of Loreto Chapel, the public has demonstrated a strong connection to this Texas treasure that has been fostered, not only by the events that have taken place here, but also by the hard work and dedication of Mr. Warzecha. We thank him for his service.”
Presidio la Bahia is a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the best-preserved Spanish presidios in the United States. The original fort was built on the ruins of the failed French Fort St. Louis in 1721, and eventually moved to its current location on the San Antonio River in 1747.
For more information about Presidio La Bahia, visit www.presidiolabahia.org. For more information about THC awards, visit www.thc.state.tx.us or contact the agency’s History Programs Division at 512-463-5853.