La Porte - Rich in History
Established in 1892, La Porte, Texas is the oldest incorporated town in East Harris County, and with age comes great stories. Every year La Porte, along with Texans everywhere, celebrate the most well known story – the story of Texas Independence. On April 21, 1836, Texas won its independence from Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto. The stage for that epic battle was the land now known as the City of La Porte. The fighting took place just five miles from downtown Main Street. Today, the San Jacinto Monument towers over the hallowed grounds casting long shadows of remembrance over the thriving industrial businesses of the Houston Ship Channel. Visitors making the historical pilgrimage can immerse themselves in Texas history inside the Monument Museum, and ride an elevator the staggering four-hundred eighty feet to the top of the Monument.
From the observation deck, standing just below the two-hundred twenty ton Lone Star of Texas, visitors can witness another one of La Porte’s famous historical stories – The Battleship Texas. Originally commissioned on March 12, 1914, the Battleship was the most powerful naval war-machine ever built. A veteran of both World Wars, she now sits proudly along the Texas shoreline with her intimidating guns still daring onlookers to doubt the unparalleled battle record and toughness of Texas. Tours of the historic ship offer a unique perspective into the lives of the brave sailors who once called the ship home during such tumultuous times.
While the Monument and Battleship provide Texas-sized reminders of history, some of La Porte’s stories of the past are as small as a one room school house off of the beaten path. At the start of the twentieth century, African-American children in La Porte had no school to call their own. Education space was borrowed from a neighborhood Baptist Church, but that all changed in 1909, when the La Porte school trustees established a new school on the north-side of the city. A short time after the school was officially created, the first ten students along with their teacher, Viola DeWalt, found a new home in a small one-room building purchased by the school district. For the next thirty-four years, the building held daily classes until a two-room structure was moved onsite and became the primary facility.
For many years after it ceased to be used for daily education, the historic one-room school house was still a centerpiece in the community. The small building hosted school performances, and acted as the meeting place for all north-side community celebrations. Overtime, the structure fell into disrepair suffering the crippling effects of time and neglect. Through the combined efforts of the La Porte Community Civic Club and the City of La Porte, the building has been completely rebuilt and once again took center stage in the community as it was dedicated on Saturday, July 21, 2018 as a museum and historical site. The building, which is located at 401 North 5th St (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.) La Porte, TX 77571, will be reopened to the public as a museum and historical building in the coming year with regular hours of operation for the facility to be determined at a later date.
A vast array of La Porte’s other historical stories can be uncovered at the La Porte Bay Area Heritage Society’s Sylvan Beach Depot Museum and Library located at 604 Park Dr., La Porte, TX 77571.