Thursday, October 27, 2016

Those Places Thursday: Belden Street in Corpus Christi, Then (1979-82) and Now (2014-2016)

My husband and I made a couple visits to Corpus Christi, Texas, this past summer, which was our stomping grounds from 1974 to 1985 (for him) and 1979 to 1984 (for me).  My husband also spent some time in his childhood in the 1940s in Corpus Christi (his parents, like us, married there), and both of us have ancestral and collateral relatives who lived here in the late 1800s and first half of the 20th century.

During the time I lived there, I didn't think to take pictures of some of the places I saw every day - either because I worked in the building, or passed by it daily.  I guess I thought those buildings would always be there.  Naturally, that was not the case.

Luckily, someone else did take pictures - Kenneth L. Anthony, who worked for a local television station for 32 years, from 1966 to 2002.  He donated many of his photographs to Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, where I obtained an MBA in 1983 (back when it was called Corpus Christi State University).  He donated 1,250 of his images to the university library's special collections in 2010.  Both the library and Mr. Anthony gave me permission to use some of his images in my blog, for which I am very grateful.

I was hired to work for the City of Corpus Christi Park and Recreation Department in early 1979, starting work on Monday, April 2, of that year.  During the entire time I lived in Corpus Christi, the department's offices were in part of a building with an entrance at 222 Belden Street, near its intersection with Water Street.  This was just a block and a half from the seawall and the bayfront.  Here is what the building looked like in 1982, just after the time I worked there (I moved to another city department in October 1981).

Above:  City of Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department offices, 222 Belden at Water Street, 1982.  Kenneth L. Anthony Photographic Collection, Item 212-85. Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  Used with permission of Kenneth L. Anthony.

All the time I worked there, I never took a photograph of the outside of the building.  I took very few inside either, and the only one even somewhat remarkable is this one, of executive secretary Judy Dreyer and I attempting to push standing water out of the lobby (on the other side of the door pictured above) the Monday after Hurricane Allen hit the city - August 11, 1980.  Note that I am using a downed sign to push out water.

We shared the building with the Corpus Christi International Seaman's Center.  It wasn't the kind of place a single woman was encouraged to enter in that era, so I was never inside it.

Sharing the same block with our building, but closer to the water and facing N. Shoreline Boulevard, was the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Tourist Bureau building.  This building was designed by architect Richard Colley, who also designed the 1952-1954 Civic Center Complex (City Hall, Memorial Coliseum, and Exposition Hall).  Here's how it looked in 1982.

Above:  Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, [1201 N.] Shoreline Blvd. 1982.  Kenneth L. Anthony Photographic Collection, Item 212-52. Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  Used with permission of Kenneth L. Anthony.

The image below is from the map I bought when I moved to Corpus Christi in 1979.  The location of the Chamber of Commerce is indicated in red text on the map - it's near the second capital C in the words "Corpus Christi Bay."  The Park and Recreation / Seaman's Center building was just to the left of it, at the corner of Belden and Water (click on the map to enlarge it).

I worked in 222 Belden from April 1979 to October 1981, and that building, as well as the Chamber of Commerce building, were still there when I left the city three years later.

Sometime later though, these offices (City Park and Recreation Department, Seamen's Center, Chamber of Commerce, and Convention & Tourist Bureau) were relocated to other nearby sites.  The Park and Recreation Department / Seaman's Center building was torn down to make way for the beautiful, 165,000-square-foot, $23 million Corpus Christi Federal (United States) Courthouse at 1133 N. Shoreline, completed in 2001.  In the process, Belden Street between Shoreline and Water was obliterated - it's now under the footprint of the courthouse, pictured below:

The Chamber of Commerce building was torn down in 2011, after their offices relocated, when "the federal government, which owned the site, determined that repairs would cost too much." (Lessoff, Alan, 2015, Where Texas Meets the Sea: Corpus Christi and its History, page 235)

Watch for more posts in this "then and now" series on Corpus Christi.

© Amanda Pape - 2016 - click here to e-mail me.

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