Historic Port Arthur building to reopen following renovations from storm damage – Port Arthur News

Historic Port Arthur building to reopen following renovations from storm damage

Published 12:40 am Sunday, May 7, 2023

In the midst of a historical year for Port Arthur, city leaders are joining next week to reopen a century-old building that once led to significant developments within the region — the Department Club.

“The club was started to be built in 1923 and completed in 1924, so we’re at its 100-year anniversary, as well,” said Tammy Kutzur, director of the Port Arthur Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“It has been closed since the last hurricane. It is a historic structure, so they have to follow the historical guidelines for renovation.”

A historical marker outside the building at 1924 Lakeshore Drive explains its significance. (Monique Batson/The News)

While the building wasn’t constructed until the 1920s, the Federated Women’s Clubs was originally organized in 1989, according to the Texas Historical Commission.

At the time, it was a reading club and members met at a house. As time passed, other clubs joined. By 1916, there were six: The Reading Club, The Symphony Club, The Woman’s Culture Club, The Woman’s Self Improvement Club, The Civic Club and The Household Economics Club.

Rachel Scott with the Port Arthur Public Library said the joining of more clubs is what spurred the name change, which was done in 1977.

Ultimately, the group included sixteen individual clubs.

According to “Port Arthur Centennial History,” which was published through the Port Arthur Historical Society, the Federated Women’s Clubs of Port Arthur in 1964 charted the Port Arthur Museum Committee in order to preserve historical items.

That ultimately led to the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

Next week’s grand opening is being done in conjunction with Tourism Week and the year-long Quasquicentennial celebrations.

“We’re celebrating history with National Tourism Week,” Kutzur said. “I am so impressed with the building, and we just really want to encourage the public to come back and start renting it.”

The building, which is owned by the city, has “old-time” charm, a great sound system, a kitchen area perfect for catered events, and a “beautiful” fie place, Kutzur said.

The public can rent it for small weddings, receptions or other events.

On May 9 at 11 am, officials will join for a ribbon cutting, which will continue with an open house until 2 pm

Employees with the city will be on hand to book events on site.

Pictured is a page from the Department Club of Port Arthur Texas’ 1916-1917 Yearbook. (Courtesy of the Port Arthur Public Library)