56th Annual Texas Jazz Festival
The Texas Jazz Festival Society focuses on increasing awareness of traditional, modern and Latin Jazz through presentation of the Texas Jazz Festival in Corpus Christi. The great news is that everyone can attend. There is never a cover charge. The Jazz Festival is a FREE event!
The fun starts Friday Oct. 21 and continues through Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. Over 50 great bands will be playing on 3 stages set amongst historic homes and beautiful trees in downtown’s Heritage Park, along with some of the greats in jazz music giving you their all. A crowd favorite, Kyle Turner, will be returning from his home base in Houston. This creative and innovative artist will be pulling out all the stops when he brings forth those sultry musical notes he’s known for from his saxophone.
If you haven’t heard him yet here’s your chance. Witness him and other great jazz musicians up close and in person, as they play their hearts out in Heritage Park at the 56th Annual Texas Jazz Festival. You deserve to experience live jazz for yourself! So mark your calendar and get your hotel reservations early because 3-days of jazz are coming to Corpus Christi and it’s just for YOU!
And while you’re in Corpus for the Jazz Festival be sure and check out The Bluff which divides Downtown from Uptown. The north end of this 40-foot bluff is a border between uptown and downtown and was built after 1900. Massive concrete retaining walls are highlighted with elegant balustrades and grand stairways. The sculpture at Peoples Street was designed by Pompeo Coppini in 1914 and property owners such as John G. Kenedy financed and donated land at the south end in 1931.
You can drive it, bike it or walk it and it provides you with a view that will go along nicely with that great jazz you’ve been listening to. Follow it southward and downward and it will gradually flow into the prettiest street in Corpus Christi. How do you get there? Ask anybody where the prettiest street in Corpus Christi is and they’ll all say the same thing – Ocean Drive! It’s a favorite drive for locals and visitors alike and the ocean front mansions lining the street command the best views of Nueces Bay in the city. It’s also very historic, especially in the area of the bluff as this is where the city was born.
Corpus Christi got its’ start in 1839 when a rather colorful gentleman from Pennsylvania by the name of Henry Lawrence Kinney built a trading post on the bluff on a site known as the Old Indian Trading Grounds. He would be the first on the bluff and established Corpus Christi as Kinney's Rancho. During the Mexican-American War, Kinney served on General James Pinckney Henderson's campaign staff and at the end of the war he returned to the area and continued trading. He was elected as a senator to the Ninth Texas Congress and served as a delegate to the Convention of 1845. He even had a county named after him. Mr. Kinney was quite the gentleman but unfortunately his life would be cut short in 1862, when he was killed in a Mexican gunfight.
The historic bluff is also where some of the legends of Texas history built their fabulous mansions. The oldest structure in Corpus Christi astonishingly continues to occupy its original site on the bluff. Built in 1849 by Captain Forbes Britton the “Centennial House” has served both as a residence, a Confederate hospital and was also used as a hospital and officers' mess hall for the Federal Army in 1866. Operated by the Corpus Christi Heritage Society, Centennial House is located at 411 Upper Broadway and is open to the public on the 1st Sunday of each month.
The “Cattle Queen of Texas”, Martha Rabb, also had her home on the bluff. In fact she had two homes on the bluff! When John and Martha Rabb first moved to town from their ranch, they lived at the south end of the bluff in a house they bought around 1857. During the Civil War, while the family was at the ranch and John was serving in a Confederate cavalry unit, the house was used as a hospital by Dr. E.T. Merriman. Originally located at 801 South Upper Broadway, the house was moved in 1982 to Heritage Park at 1513 N Chaparral, to ensure its preservation. One of a few remaining examples of Greek revival architecture in Corpus Christi, it features a central hall plan with three side gables. It is known as the Merriman-Bobys House.
After John Rabb’s death in 1872, Martha built a huge new home on the bluff known as the Magnolia Mansion. Upon her marriage to the Rev. C.M. Rogers, Martha sold the Magnolia Mansion to David Hirsch, who in turn sold it to Mifflin Kenedy. The rancher bought it for his son John G. Kenedy. The Magnolia Mansion was moved across Lipan in 1939 to make way for the new Cathedral and then dismantled in 1952. The timbers were used to build the chapel for the Holy Family Parish.
In 1885 Mifflin Kenedy, Richard King’s ranching and steamboat partner, built his own home next to the Magnolia Mansion, at Upper Broadway and Lipan. The house was an Italianate villa painted in three shades of olive green, with a tower that soared 65 feet above the roof line. Designed by architect, Alfred Giles, it featured alternating projections and recesses of porches and bay windows to reflect the patterns of light and shadow occurring at different times of the day. The interior was finished with walnut, oak, mahogany, cherry and cypress. The trim on the grand stairway was polished mesquite from the Kenedy ranch, La Parra. Acetylene gas was produced in a small building in the back for the 200 gas lights in the mansion. The house was described in the newspaper as “one of most complete in the state, and is furnished with all the modern improvements that can make a home comfortable.”
Three weeks upon completion, Petra Kenedy, Mifflin’s wife died after a long illness. She had moved into the house in February 1885 and died in March. Almost to the day, 10 years after his wife’s death, Kenedy died in the mansion following a heart attack on March 1895. Kenedy’s daughter, Sarah Josephine, and her husband, Dr. Arthur Spohn, moved into the house in 1899. In 1938, Mifflin Kenedy’s mansion was torn down and the materials taken to the La Parra Ranch at Sarita to be used in building a church.
The month after Petra Kenedy died in her new mansion on the bluff, Richard King, the greatest cattleman of the West, died in San Antonio of stomach cancer. Eight years after his death, his widow, Henrietta Chamberlain King, built a house north of the Magnolia Mansion. The turreted and castle-like King home was built in the 1850’s. In front of the mansion, across Upper Broadway, were wooden steps with a hand railing that led down the bluff. Living with Mrs. King in the mansion were her daughter and her husband, Robert J. Kleberg Sr., and their five children. One of the reasons for building the house and moving from the ranch was so Mrs. King’s grandchildren could attend school in town. Another grandson, Richard King, moved into the house with Mrs. King after his home on North Beach was destroyed in the 1919 hurricane. Mrs. King died in 1925 and the mansion was torn down in 1945. The materials were used to construct four small duplexes, three of which are on Up River Road.
These grand mansions were the epitome of the golden age of the cattle barons and their homes stood on the east side of the bluff, on Upper Broadway. Best view of the city, the bay and beyond, AND the best address in town!
It was sad when the mansions were gone. The Rabb, Kenedy, Spohn, King and Kleberg families were all instrumental in the early development of South Texas and their legacies continue today. When you view the historic homes remaining on Upper Broadway and within Heritage Park, remember them and the part they played in the creation of the Sparkling City by the Sea.
Continue your journey south down Ocean Drive from the bluff and you can take in some fabulous scenery on both sides of the road! The view of the bay is breathtaking and the homes along the road are stunning. There are several waterside parks you can pull into and become a part of the beauty of it all. When you catch your breath and journey forth, another great experience the city has to offer is located at Doddridge and Alameda. Doddridge is the next stoplight after Louisiana Parkway. Turn right and you’ll come into several quaint and charming shopping spots. Have lunch at Small Planet Deli and shop at one of the many unique boutiques. There are more great shops located all along the 4-corners of Alameda and Doddridge. Enjoy!! And don’t forget to cross Alameda for William’s Shoes. Locally owned with the best footwear you can buy and your feet will love!
A great afternoon and it’s time for a little music. This brings us back to the Texas Jazz Festival in Heritage Park. Have you noticed the beautiful old homes as you stroll around listening to some great tunes? Let me tell you about them because if you’re into jazz then you’ve got to love old historic homes. Am I right? The two rather go in hand-in-hand and there are twelve historical Corpus Christi homes that were relocated in Heritage Park. Some of the homes were originally built on the bluff. The oldest house dates back to 1851 and many have been recorded as Texas Historical Landmarks. All have been beautifully restored. These twelve incredible homes play tribute to the ethnic diversity and culture of the city. The Multicultural Center, located in the historic Galvan House, hosts several events year round, and provide visitors and residents alike a taste of the rich culture and tradition of the city. The Center also includes a Courtyard, Central Plaza and the Lytton Memorial Rose Garden. All are available for meeting and private rental.
You know, there are a lot of really cool places located close together. And it’s right on the Bayfront/downtown area. Nightclubs, dancing, even baseball, are all located in the Marina Arts District in downtown. The Marina Arts District features excellent eateries and the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina. This area also includes the Sports, Entertainment and Arts District (SEA District) which includes the Museum of South Texas, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, Concrete Street Amphitheater and Hurricane Alley Waterpark, and McGee Beach is located right on the downtown seawall offering a beach which is perfect for children and fishing along the jetties.
What a beautiful city! You might find yourself waiting to stay an extra day or two in Corpus Christi just so you can get to know it a little bit better. Have fun!!! You know you will.