Sorenson-Stair Building

Simon Sorenson, a native of Denmark, bought Brunner’s Mercantile at this site in 1886 The building was originally two stories, rebuilt after an 1895 fire. The Sorenson’s received weather reports by telegraph, posted updates in the display windows and raised warning flags as necessary. Hurricane Celia damaged the building and stock in 1970. In 1978 the Estelle Stair Gallery and the Rockport Art Association were housed here. Stair nurtured the growing art community. The load-bearing masonry building features a distinctive five-bay brick facade, with brick entry arches and pilasters capped along the stepped parapet. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-2008  

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Rockport’s Grand Hotels

Before the arrival of the railroad in 1888, hotels in Rockport generally served clientele of the several local packeries. The Congdon Hotel was the leading hostelry of early Rockport and once served as a boarding home to the prominent Robert Driscoll family in the 1880s. Rail service changed Rockport from a cattle town to a tourist resort. The Congdon became the Orleans Hotel, and the Bruhl Hotel, located on South Water Street, became the Bay Side Inn. This two-story exclusive hotel was frequented by the San Antonio social set. It was destroyed in the 1919 hurricane. In 1889, John Traylor

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Site of Aransas Hotel in Rockport

Built in 1889 by civic leader and politician John H. Traylor, the Aransas Hotel covered this city block. The three-story structure, a major tourist attraction in Rockport, had about 100 rooms and a massive open dining room with a 200 person capacity. Guests were entertained by orchestras, plays, a mounted bird display, and beach facilities. They could also cruise in Traylor’s yacht, or tour in surreys from the livery stable.  Remodeled and named the Del Mar in the mid-1890s, it was sold in 1910. Deteriorated by 1906 and unused during World War I, the hotel was destroyed by fire in

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Rockport Wharves and Pavillions

Since 1866, wharves and piers have been a part of Rockport’s shores. The first wharf was at Rocky Point, constructed to ship cattle. Other wharves handled commercial shipping and passenger traffic. Sorenson’s Wharf extended into the bay behind the Sorenson & Hooper mercantile and ship’s chandlery store (406 South Austin Street), which was established in 1887. When the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad came to Rockport in July 1888, it constructed a wharf at the end of North Street so that boxcars could be rolled directly to the ships. In the 1890s, the Bailey Pavilion was built on the

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The Packeries of Rockport

In 1866, James Doughty, T.H. Mathis, and John M. Mathis constructed cattle pens, with a long wharf that extended out into Aransas Bay from “Rocky Point” (the landmark from which Rockport gets its name). Cattle were shipped to New Orleans on the Morgan line. The hides, hooves, horns, and tallow were shipped East to make fine leather, buttons, glue, candles, and soap. Carcasses were usually discarded. In 1871, an ice plant was added to one of the packeries, which allowed preservation of the meat. As late as 1880, the Rockport packeries handled 93 percent of the Texas-packed beef production. By

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Rockport Harbor

In 1866, James Doughty and Richard H. Wood, searching for a safe harbor location to ship cattle, built pens and a livestock-shipping wharf on “Rocky Point”. Other wharves and pens followed. Soon, a regular schedule of Morgan line shallow-draft steamboats arrived with merchandise and departed with cattle and packery products. In 1888, the railroad ignited a boom in Rockport, prompting local businessmen to begin advertising a strategic harbor near the Gulf. They also pushed to deepen it and create a deep-water port, but the effort ended when Corpus Christi opened its port in 1926. However, abundant harvests of fish, oysters,

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