Historic downtown Beeville showing the Rialto Theater
|Nickname(s): A Honey of a Town|
Beeville is a city in Bee County, Texas, United States, with a population of 13,290 as of 2013. It is the county seat of Bee County and home to the main campus of Coastal Bend College. The city is also home to three prisons operated by The Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Many of the stately homes, commercial buildings, and schools in the area, including the Bee County Courthouse, were designed by architect William Charles Stephenson, who came to Beeville in 1908 from Buffalo, New York. Beeville is a National Main Street City.
The site on the Poesta River was first settled by the Burke, Carroll and Heffernan families in the 1830s. Present-day Beeville was established on a 150-acre land donation made by Ann Burke in May of 1859 after the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States. It was first named "Maryville" for pioneer Mary Heffernan.
It was renamed "Beeville" after Barnard E. Bee, Sr., who had served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas. It was called "Beeville-on-the-Poesta", with a nearby community "Beeville-on-the-Medio" seven miles (11 km) to the west. In 1859, Beeville's first post office opened.
In 1880, the population was about three hundred. In 1886, the first railroad was constructed to the town, stimulating the growth of the economy and population, which exceeded one thousand by the end of the decade.
Beeville was incorporated as a town in 1890, but the incorporation was dissolved the following year. In 1900, the population was 2,311. Beeville was reincorporated as a town in 1908.
In 1920, the population was 3,062. The town streets were paved in 1921. The Rialto Theater, one of the Beeville structures designed by W. C. Stephenson, cost $25,000. On Saturday, August 19, 1922, it opened with the silent film The Three Musketeers starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Admission was twenty-five cents for adults and ten cents for children. The theater is now used for special occasions, and live performances.
The Texas oil boom brought new residents to town, and in 1930 the population was 4,806. In 1950, the Beeville population was 9,348.
The United States Navy operated the Beeville Naval Air Station, which trained Navy airplane pilots during World War II from 1943 through 1946. The base was reopened in 1952 as Naval Air Station Chase Field, continuing in operation until 1992.
Beeville was served by Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) during the 1950s. TTa operated scheduled passenger flights withDouglas DC-3 prop airliners from Chase Field with service to Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Houston, San Antonio and other destinations in Texas.
In 1967, the town was inundated by 30 inches (760 mm) of rain during Hurricane Beulah.
Beeville calls itself "A Honey of a Town".
Cattle grazing on ranch lands between Beeville and Goliad, Texas
Entrance sign at Beeville, Texas
Beeville is served by the Beeville Independent School District, which has approximately 3,500 students in six schools.
A C Jones High School boasts newly turfed football stadium and a brand new softball and baseball complex. Sports include golf, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, powerlifting, boys and girls soccer, tennis, track, wrestling, and cheerleading. The teams are the Trojans and the Lady Trojans, and their colors are orange and white. Other extra-curricular programs include the Dazzlers Dance Team, band, choir, and theater arts.
The main campus of Coastal Bend College in Beeville opened in 1967 with 790 students. Today it has over 3,700 students, more than 1,200 of them full-time. Dormitories and apartments on campus provide affordable housing. The community college offers an Associate Degree in 26 different fields. (Other campuses are in Alice, Kingsville, and Pleasanton.)
The Joe Barnhart Bee County Library is located in downtown Beeville, directly across the street from the Bee County Courthouse.
The Beeville Art Museum is a teaching museum, relying on traveling exhibitions. It is housed in the beautiful Esther Barnhart House. The house was built in 1910 by the R.L. Hodges family and occupied by their descendants until 1975. In 1981, the Hodges house and adjacent acreage were purchased by Dr. Joe Barnhart of Houston. He named the house the Esther Barnhart House in honor of his mother. He then developed the land into a park for the community. He named the park the Joe Barnhart Park in honor of his father.