Corpus Christi History: A Look at the Civic Heart of Corpus Christi

A Look at the Civic Heart of Corpus Christi

A look back at City Hall’s former home in today’s La Retama Park.

Photo credit: Corpus Christi Public Libraries, La Retama Special Collections & Archives

Depending on the generation of Corpus Christi residents you ask, you’d get several different answers to the questions “Where was City Hall?” and “What used to be where La Retama Park is?” The above building, which served as City Hall from 1911 to 1952, is the one remembered from the childhoods of our most seasoned residents. Others remember the building designed by Richard Colley near the Memorial Coliseum on Shoreline Boulevard, from 1952 until it was replaced by the current City Hall in 1988.

The City Hall at 505 Mesquite, now the location of La Retama Park, was built in 1911 on the site of the old Market Hall. Murphy Givens called this the “civic heart of old Corpus Christi,” and the decision to build City Hall there was logical, as Market Hall had included space for the local government and volunteer fire brigade.

As the years passed, the city outgrew the building. Repurposing it for La Retama Library led to the discovery that the structure itself needed to be reinforced for the building to continue to be used. This stripped away the historic façade and saw the installation of a modern façade devoid of the original design’s historic detail.

Even after the retrofit, the building structure itself continued to fail, and it was demolished in 1987. Although this building would certainly be regarded as historic if it still stood today, this site continues to be the civic heart of Corpus Christi in its service to the community as a city park.

Looking for more History? Check out Vintage Corpus Christi: A Look at One Soda Fountain’s Showmanship or The Driscoll Hotel Serving Corpus Christi for Eighty Years.