There are more than a century's worth of colorful facts and stories about The Tarpon Inn.
The Tarpon Inn was built in 1886 with surplus lumber from Civil War barracks. And it was first used to house workers for the Mansfield Jetty (the south jetty for Aransas Pass). After work was completed on the jetty, the building became a hotel-and it's been one ever since.
The architecture of the Tarpon is pretty characteristic of tropical coastal structures. It was designed and built for comfort in the sunny, humid climate of the Texas Coastal Bend.
After a series of disasters (a fire in 1900, a major hurricane and tidal wave in 1919) the main building was rebuilt--but with impressive reinforcements against future storms. Many pilings were placed in concrete, with the ends extending up through the entire structure into the attic. Consequently, because of the protected shelter it offers, the Tarpon Inn has housed many area residents during storms over the years, and has served as headquarters for the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Military units.
Today, engineers marvel at the almost perfect alignment of the pilings-which is a difficult feat at ground level, much less 2-1/2 stories in the air. But we suspect that what you'll marvel at and appreciate the most are the two long, deep, shady porches, with their comfy rocking chairs. The porches stretch along the full length of the main building. They offer cool shade and catch all the refreshing sea breezes. They also give us the bragging rights to the title of "The Longest in Texas"-and, since no one has ever come forward to dispute it, we're sticking with our story!
In 1979, recognition was given the Tarpon Inn as it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as a Texas Historic Landmark. When you're here, make a point to look for the official plaques that make us an official "treasure." And you'll also want to see the sidewalk "tiles" along the entire front of the property. They were made in honor of the Tarpon Inn Centennial in 1986. Guests, former owners and their relatives, visitors, and island residents placed their hands in wet cement, along with messages and mementos. Some of them are humorous, some are touching. And all of them are tributes to the special place that the Tarpon Inn has held in many, many hearts over the decades.
"History is not the past but a map of the past, drawn from a particular point of view, to be useful to the modern traveler.”
Henry Glassie, US historian