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Main Street History

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, Inc. Office

Port Lavaca Main Street, Inc. Office
Port Lavaca Main Street, Inc. Office

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.