The Many Purposes of Market Hall
By Jillian Becquet
By: Jillian Becquet Photo Credit: Courtesy of Corpus Christi Public Libraries
Now known as La Retama Park, the area in the triangle between Schatzell and Peoples streets at Mesquite, served as a gathering center for downtown Corpus Christi for over a century.
Built in 1871, Market Hall was Corpus Christi’s first public building. On the first floor, vendors rented stalls and sold basic wares, including meat and vegetables, to the citizens of Corpus Christi. Dances and other community social events were held in a large hall.
A belfry, housing the bell used to alert Corpus Christi’s all-volunteer firemen, stood on the west end of Market Hall. Today, a historical marker recognizes this site as the original home of the Corpus Christi Fire Department. The bell, donated to the war effort during WWII, sailed aboard the USS Houston as the ship’s bell. It is now on display at the Corpus Christi Museum.
Market Hall stood until 1911, when a new brick city hall was built on the site. Builders repurposed the wood from Market Hall for a house on the bluff. This continued the role of the location as a civic center for the citizens. Today, when you browse the vendors at La Retama park during Artwalk, know you’re doing just what this land was always meant for—supporting local people.