GONE: 92-year-old Yacht Club demolished

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

The Port Isabel Yacht Club, built in 1926 — two years before the incorporation of the City of Port Isabel — is no more.

The 92-year-old former speakeasy, hotel and restaurant was demolished beginning last Friday, Dec. 14.

The property’s new owners, father and son duo Ernesto and Armando Martinez, were on site as a large Caterpillar excavator used its bucket like a closed fist to punch through walls and claw away at the sagging, rotted roof.

Golden afternoon sunlight spilled into the building’s newly exposed interior as the Martinezes stood outside the fence line. Periodically, passersby on foot would stop to stare. Drivers, too, slowed down in the middle of the road, or pulled over to look up at the half-ruined structure through open car windows.

Though the elder and younger Martinezes declined to speak on the record, they did share their excitement for their future plans for the property. Ernesto Martinez reiterated comments he made during public city meetings earlier this year, saying the family was planning something exciting.

But those plans are not entirely clear. The family has guarded their plans, repeatedly saying they will inform the community when the time is right.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.portisabelsouthpadre.com/2018/12/21/gone-92-year-old-yacht-club-demolished/


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  1. I’m in utter shock that the Yaght Club was allowed to be totally demolished. What a black mark against the town that supposedly prides itself on history. So now you’ll have a new building that will be cheaply made and in a 20 years will become low- income housing for your area when it could have become a tourist attraction to accompany the lighthouse and provide nightlife to residents. I’m disgusted and my stomach literally hurts that city leaders failed in so many ways. What kind of grants were offered, assistance, incentives? When will the RGV figure out what the rest of the nation has already learned, use the historic building shell at a minimum to create a development with character and still maintain community pride. What’s next the lighthouse? Totally disgusted. If you just wanted another big building, somewhere else could have been chosen. You guys got duped by another short-sighted developer who will forever be known as the guys who tore down your historic Yaght Club.

      • C R on December 5, 2019 at 8:33 am
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      100 % agree with you, Ariel!

    • Franklin W Peeler on December 10, 2020 at 2:43 pm
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    I met my future wife at the Yacht Club Motel in June 1979 while on vacation after graduating college. I stayed there 4 times between 1975 and 1979. Good luck. May she rest in PEACE.

  2. My heart just sank! My son is living in the valley doing custom work for the huge farms that provide for our nation. We are making our first long trip down there and thought it would be fun to visit the Yacht Club in Port I. I am devastated that it has been demolished! I had just read that Preservation TX was working on getting it restored! I have stayed there twice but visited it more as a fine restaurant and bar in the ’70s. It was Texas’s own “Hotel California”. Once when my gal pals & I ventured into Mexico, my friend lost her car keys in a taxi that sped off before she realized they had fallen out of her pocket. She had an extra set in her luggage at the Yacht Club! So…we called the Coast Guard–we had met a few of those nice gentlemen the night before and asked if they would rescue us! Then we called the Yacht Club and the kind manager went into our room and got the keys, gave them to the Coast Guard & we were back in Port I before midnight. What a night! So sad that icon of the Texas coast is gone. I’m sure whatever takes its place will never match the tradition and the beauty. Next–the Lighthouse?

    • Jennifer Wilks on July 19, 2021 at 12:50 pm
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    So so sad to hear this!!!! Breaks my heart!!
    I can’t believe they could destroy this amazing historic landmark!!!! Turning it into apartments?!?!

    • M Varel on March 8, 2022 at 6:17 pm
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    So sad that there’s no value in the history of this landmark. We celebrated many family gatherings dinning there.

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