Rockport Railroad Depot Restoration Continues
Oct 25, 2023
The Rockport Cultural Arts District (RCAD) continues its work with state and local historical preservationists and historians, supporting foundations and friends on its restoration of Rockport’s landmark San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad Depot.
Since 2017, RCAD envisioned acquisition, restoration and sharing this unique historical asset to locals and visitors. RCAD’s visionary goal was to restore and utilize the historic Deport as a central hub for the Heritage and Cultural Arts District, as well as provide parking for the new Civic Core and Center for the Arts Complex.
This vision mirrors the growth and positive role of the railroad in Rockport in the 1890’s, bringing business and tourists to area hotels, restaurants and merchants, for hunting and fishing, and musical and theatrical events. Rockport’s population grew from 600 in 1888 to 2500 just two years later in 1890.
Hurricane Harvey badly damaged the Depot in August 2017. RCAD received funding to stabilize the building and begin restoration, including a Cultural District Project Grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA). This grant was made possible by the establishment of the Rockport Cultural Arts District in 2016. Since that time, RCAD also received generous support from the Margaret Sue Rust Foundation, Texas Historical Foundation, Coastal Bend Community Foundation, The Summerlee Foundation, Castaways Thrift Store, Ed Rachal Foundation, H.E.B., the Nystrom Foundation, Salemi’s Ace Hardware, City of Rockport, Aransas County, and generous private donors.
RCAD has continually worked to restore and repurpose the Depot located in the center of the District at 105 N. Magnolia Street. In May 2020, RCAD opened the Rockport Railroad Depot Museum, showcasing railroad artifacts and providing educational displays of Rockport’s unique heritage.
Restoration has attracted cultural and heritage tourists, including the significant existing network of railroad enthusiasts, museum and history buffs, families and students. The most recent restoration of the front entrance replicates the original entrance shown in the attached photos.
Simultaneously with the opening of the Railroad Depot Museum, RCAD initiated the Passport to the Past Program in partnership with the Fulton Mansion, the Texas Maritime Museum, and the History Center for Aransas County. This Program is designed to encourage visiting each of these important historical venues, learning of our rich heritage, and then receiving a small prize at the last venue visited.
RCAD is one of only 54 Cultural Districts in the state and was the first on the Coastal Bend. It focuses on preserving and promoting the unique cultural heritage of Rockport by sparking economic development, attracting artists and cultural enterprises, preserving and reusing historic buildings, encouraging business and job development, establishing tourism destinations, and fostering local cultural development.
We encourage you to learn more and donate to the continued restoration of this important historic Rockport and Coastal Bend landmark at www.rockportculturalartsdistrict.com.