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What are the oldest homes in Rockport?
By Kam Wagert
History Center Docent
There are four homes in Rockport that date to 1868.
The Richard Henry Wood house, located at 203 N. Magnolia, was built in the Greek Revival style of architecture. The exterior is long leaf pine and cypress, which was shipped from Louisiana. The living space is 2,703 square feet. Richard H. Wood was in partnership with A. J. Doughty, and they bought and managed properties along the Rockport waterfront. Wood owned a cattle ranch on St. Joseph’s Island until the 1919 hurricane. Anne and Jeff Hunt are the present owners, having purchased the house in 2014.
The Baylor-Norvell home at 617 Water Street also dates to 1868. Built in the Colonial Revival style of architecture, this single story residence has 1,826 sq. ft. John Baylor was the first owner of this house. He was a doctor and wealthy cattleman. Elisha and Irene Norvell lived in the house from 1890 – 1935. Elisha worked as an agent for the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad. Irene contributed to the artistic culture of Rockport. This house was one of a handful of homes on Water Street that survived the devastating hurricane of 1919. Melissa and Wayne White have owned the house since 1999.
The Mathis home, located at 621 S. Church Street, was also built in 1868. This house features the Italianate, Classical and Greek Revival types of architecture. It has a basement, which is unusual for this county. John M. Mathis was the original owner, and the first mayor of Rockport in 1870. His cousin, Thomas H. Mathis, was a partner in the Coleman, Mathis, and Fulton Cattle Company. The home still belongs to the Mathis family.
The Fulton-Bruhl home at 409 N. Broadway was built in 1868 as a Cape Cod cottage. There is long leaf pine on the walls, ceilings, and floors. It has a five bay entrance. James C. and Francis Fulton raised seven children in this house. He was the son of George W. Fulton. They lived in the house from 1872 – 1907. Albert L. and Hattie Bruhl then owned the house; Hattie was James’ daughter. Albert was a pharmacist and was the mayor of Rockport three times. Because he made his own salves and ointments, Albert was often called “Doc” Bruhl. Anne and Jeff Hunt have owned the house since 2009.
You can see photographs of these homes, along with details about all of the owners, if you visit the current exhibit about old Rockport houses at the History Center for Aransas County located at 801 E. Cedar. The Center is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturdays and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. The exhibit ends July 16.
For more information, see the website www.aransashistorycenter.org or call (361)727-9214.