Character and History of Rockport Texas
Rockport was founded in 1867. The earliest Post Office was established in 1868, and Vicktor F. Bracht was appointed Postmaster by President Grover Cleveland. Rockport was incorporated as a town in 1870, and was the County Seat of Refugio County for a brief period. Aransas County was formed from Refugio County in 1871. The City of Rockport was incorporated in 1871. Most of the buildings were constructed of wood. One of those buildings was a two-story grocery store owned by Fred Brunner. When he died in 1885, his wife sold the business to Simon B. Sorenson.
Simon Sorenson and James Hooper became partners, and it was called Sorenson & Hooper. They sold groceries, hardware, and feed. In 1890, this store and many of the businesses in Rockport burned when the Finish Saloon & Gambling Hall, which was located on Water Street behind the Sorenson Building, caught fire. The original building was replaced by a two-story brick one, which survived another devasting downtown fire in 1891. In 1895, another fire damaged the second story of the building. The first floor was restored. Although James Hooper left and started a grocery store farther south on Austin Street, he and Simon Sorenson remained friends. Simon’s son, John Curry Sorenson, joined him in the business and the business was renamed Simon B. Sorenson & Sons. Simon died in the spring of 1916. The business became John C. Sorenson & Sons.
The building withstood the 1916, 1919, 1942 and other hurricanes in those years before hurricanes were named. It also withstood Carla, and Beulah in the 1960s. In 1970, when Celia took off the roof and destroyed the stock, Paul Clark Sorenson decided he had had enough. Times had changed, and people were shopping at supermarkets. He sold the building to Estelle Stair. By 1978 it housed her gallery and the Rockport Art Association. The building survived Harvey and has been restored once again. It is still standing in the Rockport Cultural Arts District as the Estelle Stair Gallery.
– Janie White, The Aransas County Historical Society,
Postal address: P.O. Box 702, Rockport, TX 78382
Visit the Aransas County Historical Society at achs1985.org