A follow up on what is believed to be the first "beach hotel" in Port Aransas. It's still standing but in need of major remodel. My good friend Andy Taubman sent this;Jim,
I wanted to follow-up with the Belle's information. I'm back in Puerto Rico, so I don't have my primary records in front of me. Also, unfortunately, the hurricane damaged much of the historical artwork in the hotel and the area where lots of historical items were kept.
The property was originally known as the Seahorse Hotel. It is reported to be the first beach hotel in Port Aransas. It was owned by Jack Cobb. It was built on a sand dune as one of the highest locations in Port Aransas in the mid-1950's. The architect was the famous O'Neil Ford.
Many people who now live in Port A who were teen aged in the 1960's have told us stories. Jack would fly whole opera companies to PA for formal entertaining that would devolve into wild parties. We have (or had because of the storm) some 35mm slides that showed at least one event. They would carry the grand piano down to the beach, lots of drinking, lots of nudity. We also get returning guests and random calls from all over with similar remembrances. He also operated the commercial kitchen as an exclusive dining club, known as the Miyacka Yacht Club (I may have spelling wrong).
The hotel is certainly part of the history of the gay and lesbian community in Texas. Prior to general social acceptance, the Hotel was a place that welcomed that community and allowed open acceptance of that lifestyle. Much of the old artwork represented these themes.
Another regular group was the Democratic Party. My understanding is that the hotel was the center of Democratic entertaining for the entire gulf coast to Louisiana. Ann Richards was a regular guest . There is a sign "Governer's Suite" that was hung when she arrived. There are rumors of Hilary Clinton, Farrah Fawcett and Frank Sinatra as guests.
The infamy of the Hotel was the murder of the second owner Michael Robert which brought into the open a lot of the hotel's salacious secrets.
After Michael's death, the hotel was purchased by two women and renamed Belle's Sea Inn. They sold-off much of the land surrounding the hotel which ultimately became Banyan Beach subdivision.
There must be substantial information on the hotel in various archives. A few years ago, I was at the Nueces County courthouse and there was a display featuring Port A. The 1950's era postcard of the hotel was a prominent feature.
Hopefully, as the storm-forced remodel winds down, I intend to do a better job of discovering and archiving the history.
Thanks for your friendship,