The storied movie set made famous by John Wayne goes on sale January 27 in Brackettville, Texas.
The mother of all estate sales is happening this weekend in South Texas. For John Wayne fans, aficionados of western film, history buffs, and collectors of movie memorabilia, the Alamo Village Estate Sale is the opportunity of a lifetime.
In the fall of 1959, John Wayne began shooting The Alamo on a South Texas ranch just north of Brackettville, about 130 miles west of San Antonio and 40 miles from the border. The property belonged to James T. “Happy” Shahan and his wife, Virginia, and Happy himself had spearheaded the efforts to bring the production of Wayne’s big-budget film to Texas. The movie set constructed on the Shahan ranch became known as Alamo Village and can be credited for more than 72 other productions including Two Rode Together starring Jimmy Stewart, Bandolero! starring Dean Martin and Raquel Welch, and Lonesome Dove starring previous C&I cover men Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall.
Siblings Paul Davis and Diane Williams, who lived on the neighboring ranch, remember their experiences during those months of filming. “Our ranch joined the Shahan ranch, and so when they shot at night, I would go over there and watch them shoot, because I couldn’t during the day because I was in school,” remembers Davis, who was 16 years old at the time and the eldest of the seven Davis siblings.“That was when I realized just how tedious moviemaking is — because it would take hours to shoot a scene that would end up being 10 seconds long. I thought, Boy, this is hard work.”
“I was 5, so I don’t remember everything as clearly, but I do vividly remember going down to the crossing and having a picnic with John Wayne — that day and several other days — because they were shooting the water scenes on our ranch,” recalls Williams. “I just remember him being so big and looking up and thinking he was the biggest man I’d ever seen. I also remember that I wanted to wear blue jeans because my brothers were and my mother made me wear a sundress and I’ve never gotten over it.”
Williams’ sundress (accompanied by a scowl) is immortalized in a family photo with John Wayne that still hangs in the Davis family’s ranch house. "The main thing, of course, was getting our picture taken with John Wayne,” Davis adds. “It was all of us, my siblings and a few cousins, and when I look at that picture, I’m struck by how unfit-looking John Wayne is, because he was kind of older at that point. Today, film stars tend to be in such good shape, and younger — but he was no youngster.”
John Wayne was 52 when he filmed The Alamo in Brackettville nearly 60 years ago. While the memories of those who observed this iconic production up close will last a lifetime, now is the chance for anyone to own a piece of the Duke’s Texas history. Everything from wagons to church pews to the cantina bar is available for purchase this weekend.
Saturday, January 27, 2018, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, January 28, 2018, 8 am – 5 p.m.
Brackettville, TX 78832
Please note that The Alamo Village Estate Sale is a liquidation sale, not an auction. The Nest Estate Sale Services, the company organizing the sale, also warns that this weekend is not the time to tour the property or bring small children: “Facilities are limited and places to sit are few. Many of the buildings will be closed and locked to protect the public.”
Please visit the estate sale website for full details including pictures of inventory, a list of items you're allowed to bring or not bring (no large bags) and other attendance requirements and regulations. Photography courtesy The Nest Estate Sale Services.