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La Porte in Harris County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Sylvan Beach Pavilion

 
 
Sylvan Beach Pavilion Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jim Evans, September 6, 2019
1. Sylvan Beach Pavilion Marker
Inscription.  The town of La Porte, developed in 1892, originally reserved a portion of the bayfront for a recreational park, known as Sylvan Grove. Following the panic of 1893, much of the bayfront was sold except for 22 acres that were retained as Sylvan Beach Park that became, in 1896, a privately operated amusement park and campground. A 1930s pavilion, one of the largest dance halls in the south, was destroyed by a tornado spawned by the 1943 hurricane. The park's pavilion was not rebuilt as wartime restrictions curtailed non-defense related construction. In 1954, Harris County Commissioners purchased the Sylvan Beach Park and commissioned the Houston architectural firm of Greacen & Brogniez to design a modern, hurricane-resistant dance pavilion.

Opened in may 1956, the Sylvan Beach Pavilion celebrated the park's musical and dance history with its elevated octagonal glass walled ballroom containing a large circular wood dance floor that appears to float above the park. This mid-century modern pavilion is an interpretation of the freestanding, octagonal buildings built by German and Czech immigrants in Texas as dance halls and community gathering
Sylvan Beach Pavilion image. Click for full size.
By Jim Evans, September 6, 2019
2. Sylvan Beach Pavilion
places. Significant alterations were made in 1962 and 1980. During its first half century of service, the pavilion attracted local and national talent offering music venues ranging from big band orchestras to country to jazz to blues. The pavilion also touched generations of Harris County residents as the location of significant social events including quinceañeras, proms and weddings. The Sylvan Beach Pavilion remains one of the most prominent mid-twentieth century structures in Harris County.
 
Erected 2011 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 16881.)
 
Location. 29° 39.105′ N, 95° 0.635′ W. Marker is in La Porte, Texas, in Harris County. Marker can be reached from Bayshore Drive south of East Fairmount Parkway, on the left when traveling south. Located in Sylvan Beach Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 554 North Bayshore Drive, La Porte TX 77571, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The La Porte-Sylvan Beach Depot (approx. 0.2 miles away); La Porte's Original Library (approx. 0.2 miles away); Saint Mary's Seminary (approx. 0.3 miles away); La Porte (approx. 0.8 miles away); Five Points - The Hub of the City
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(approx. 1.1 miles away); First City Hall and Jail (approx. 1.1 miles away); Besson Building (approx. 1.1 miles away); Gribble-Hofheinz House (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in La Porte.
 
Regarding Sylvan Beach Pavilion. This structure is in National Register of Historic Places
It is also a State of Texas Antiquities Landmark

It's curious to me the pavilion is the only marker at Sylvan Beach. Yes, the pavilion (originally a dance hall) was there but Sylvan Beach has a rich history. The dance hall was just one feature.

In 1892 an area called Sylvan Grove was reserved on the waterfront. The area around Sylvan Grove was developed with amenities including bathhouses, boating piers, and a Victorian hotel with the dance hall. La Porte became the most popular tourist destination in the Houston area. 1896 Sylvan Grove Park was renamed Sylvan Beach. Cottage retreats were built around the waterfront.

During the 1920s and 1930s Sylvan Beach became a nationally recognized destination, featuring beauty contests and regular performances by famous bands, in addition to a growing gallery of other amenities. It was so popular
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it had it's own train station. Well-known performers of the era, including Guy Lombardo, the Dorsey Brothers, Phil Harris, and Benny Goodman, appeared at the park.

In the 1930s the park was completely revamped, with additions of a large boardwalk, amusement rides, and many other attractions.
 
Categories. ArchitectureEntertainmentParks & Recreational Areas
 

More. Search the internet for Sylvan Beach Pavilion.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 15, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 7, 2019, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. This page has been viewed 46 times since then. Last updated on September 15, 2019, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 7, 2019, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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