Port Aransas is a history buff’s island paradise. Many of the island’s structures have been around since the 1800s and served many purposes throughout the area’s development. While you’re soaking in all that history during your history journey to Port Aransas, don’t forget to spend some time at the beach, and experiencing the many activities the island has to offer.
The Tarpon Inn
Constructed of surplus lumber from Civil War barracks in 1886, the inn was originally used to house workers for the Mansfield Jetty. After completion of the jetty, the building became a hotel. After a major hurricane and tidal wave in 1919, the structure was rebuilt with reinforcements against future damage. Since then, it has been used as a headquarters for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and several military units, as well as area residents during disasters. In 1979, the inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as becoming a Texas Historic Landmark. The inn has a restaurant, 24 active guest rooms, and space for special events.
Aransas Pass, C.S.A.
Make sure to get a picture at the official Aransas Pass historic marker. The marker details facts that the pass is a natural inlet to Aransas Bay separating San Jose and Mustang Islands. It details other historical facts about the area, including its uses during the Civil War.
WWII Coastal Defenses at the Aransas Pass
Another picture-worthy marker notes the World War II Coastal Defenses in the area. After the U.S. entered the war in 1941, the war department created the Southern Defense Command (SDC) as part of its national defense system, spanning the southern U.S. coastline from North Carolina to Brownsville, TX – including the Port Aransas area. After the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, the U.S. added several military bases, including one in Port Aransas that hosted a temporary field artillery battery for the 2nd Infantry Division, featuring 105 MM Howitzers.
Lydia Ann Lighthouse
The Lydia Ann Lighthouse was built in 1857, after the area’s trade through Aransas Pass began booming. Also called the Aransas Pass Light Station, the lighthouse is not accessible by road. History buffs wanting a glimpse of the structure need to take a cruise past it in your own vessel or get a view of it from nearby Roberts Point Park.
Port Aransas Museum
Of course, you’ll make the museum one of the first stops on your history tour of the area. You’ll learn what shaped the town into what it has become today through a number of temporary and permanent exhibits. The 1900s “kit house” that hosts the museum sits at 400 N. Alister. It is open for tours given by local volunteers Thursday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Admission is free, and donations are appreciated.
Farley’s Historic Boat Shop
Farley Boat Works remains the premier boat builder in Port Aransas, specializing in tarpon fishing boats. The first tarpon fishing boats built by bothers Barney and Fred Farley were built in 1910. The business was moved to Port Aransas in 1914 and eventually included Fred’s three sons. The business expanded to include speed boats, cabin boats, and corporate vessels. The “living exhibit” – the company continues to build boats there – can be visited at 716 W. Avenue C on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon. It is closed Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.
Chapel on the Dunes
The historic 1930s church was built by Aline Carter, former Texas poet laureate. Inside, the alter and tile work are based on drawings designed by Carter. The church no longer holds services, but locals and visitors can tour the church building and grounds during tours organized by the Port Aransas Museum. They also host special events, including weddings.
Mexican War Fort
In 1845, General Zachary Taylor placed artillery on Mustang Island, recorded as Mustang Island Fort, to prevent enemy forces from coming through Aransas Pass to attempt to neutralize the San Jose Island supply depot. The fort was again utilized throughout the Civil War as war supplies continued to be transported via Aransas Pass.
Journey Through Port Aransas History
You decided to add a little historical flare to your island retreat. While you plot your course to all the fabulous historical areas of the island, make sure to book a stay in a vacation condo at The Dunes. We offer one-bedroom units if you’re on a solo discovery of history, all the way up to three-bedroom units for you and all your favorite history buffs to explore the island’s roots together. In fact, the site of the property could also be considered historic, too. Our beachfront condos sit on property that used to be restaurant and night club before being sold to create the comfortable accommodations you relax in today! When you use the fully equipped kitchen of your unit, think about enjoying good food in the restaurant. When you stretch out in an open living space after a long day of historic fun, think of dancing the night away to good music. Snuggle up in comfortable beds in private bedrooms to get a good night’s sleep before another day of fun history exploration.
Contact us today to start planning your history journey to Port Aransas!