Port Lavaca Main Street, Inc. is a nonprofit organization formed in September of
1989 to revitalize and preserve the historic downtown area of Port Lavaca. Because
of the efforts of the Main Street Committee, the downtown area is once again beginning
to thrive. The area hosts a variety of businesses and is home to the oldest business
in Port Lavaca, Melcher's Hardware, which has been serving customers since 1917.
The hardware store has been proclaimed a historic landmark.
Another historic landmark is the building once known as Beach Hotel, located on the
corner of Main Street and Commerce overlooking Lavaca Bay. Now a restored apartment
complex, the building was one of the first hotels in the area. The text on the historical
marker erected in 1991 reads
"Constructed in 1904 by local merchant and real estate agent C. U. Yancy, the Beach
Hotel has been a part of the Port Lavaca landscape for generations. At the time of
its construction, the hotel was the tallest building in town. Tourists from San Antonio
and other inland cities often rode special excursion trains to Port Lavaca to enjoy
the recreational opportunities along the coast and to stay in the hotel. Traveling
salesmen frequently lodged here, and the hotel's dining room was the site of numerous
community social events."
Artists as well as businesses have been busy in the downtown area. In addition to
extensive renovations of the interior of the MainStreet Theatre, the side of the
theatre has a mural depicting life and activities in Calhoun County. Several of the
other downtown buildings have been decorated as well, some with murals depicting
scenes from 19th century Port Lavaca. The renovations have been made possible by
individual donations and grants from various groups.
Main Street Park
The Main Street Committee is also responsible for the Fay Bauer Sterling Park, a
pocket park which was created by removing the interiors of two buildings and restoring
the original facades. On the wall is a tribute to our local heroes who served in
Operation Desert Storm.
Picnic tables provide space for an outdoor mid-day picnic or a rest amid the greenery.
One wall is the original sign for Reagan's Dry Goods Store, a delightful surprise
that was uncovered during the renovations.
Main Street, Inc. Office
New office building for theater and Main Street at 115 S. Guadalupe -
a work in progress
Original ownership of the land at this location began in approximately 1879. Built
in 1905, this building went through ownership by several parties until Joe D. Lawhn
leased it on December 16, 1954 and established his barber shop there. He later purchased
the building and operated the barber shop until his retirement. He died December
5, 1997 and his widow, Eleanor, conveyed the property to the Port Lavaca Main Street,
Inc. a year later.
Freddie Sparks, who has resided in Calhoun County since birth, remembers when the
streets of downtown were first being paved. The city had removed dirt from the streets
in preparation for paving. The town had a rainstorm, and she recalls a picture in
the local newspaper with this building looking as though it were surrounded by a
lake. Ms. Sparks also recalls this building, prior to Mr. Lawhn's barber shop and
prior to it being a Paul's Jewelry Store, as Dudgeons which sold groceries, appliances
and even automobiles. Being renovated through the generosity of individual donations
and grants from various groups, it will serve as the office for the theater group
and the Main Street committee.