Heritage Park: The Merriman-Bobys House
Corpus Christi’s Heritage Park is home to 12 of the city’s oldest and most historic houses, with the oldest dating back to 1851. Many of the homes are registered as Texas Historical Landmarks, and all of them have been restored as close to their original conditions as possible to create a celebratory hub for Corpus Christi and South Texas’s ethnic diversity and culture. If you’re planning a trip to the Coastal Bend, spend an afternoon touring these beautiful historic homes that pay homage to the place we call home.
Originally built by Walter Merriman in 1851, the Merriman-Bobys House is the second oldest structure in Corpus Christi and the oldest structure in Heritage Park. This home was built one year before the City of Corpus Christi was officially incorporated in 1852. It was moved from its original location at 801 South Upper Broadway to Heritage Park in 1982 to maintain its preservation.
The home is one of the few remaining examples of Greek Revival architecture in Corpus Christi, reminiscent of many homes built in the area in the 1850s. The original house, built from hand-sawed native wood and square nails, contained a front-facing, one-gabled section with a porch facing Corpus Christi Bay. Two rooms were separated by a hallway, and each end of the house featured a fireplace with chimneys build of “shellcrete,” a mixture of crushed oyster shells and lime. The second and third gables were added around the time of the Civil War.
By 1870, Merriman sold his home. The house was then owned by rancher John Rabb. During the Civil War and the 1867 yellow fever epidemic, Dr. Eli T. Merriman used it as a hospital facility. After going through a series of owners, the Merriman-Bobys House had also been used as a home, a meeting place for the Texas Poetry Society, a party house and a rental property. It was named a Texas Historical Landmark in 1963.
In 1981, Beatrice Kovner Bobys sold the house to Morris L. Lichtenstein, who originally had other plans for the property. After recognizing its historical character, Lichtenstein donated the house to the City of Corpus Christi through the Corpus Christi Landmark Commission. The Corpus Christi Arts Council was the recommended agency to restore and use the house for its office.
The Corpus Christi Visitor Information Center currently resides in the Merriman-Bobys House. Although there is no official tour of the home, visitors are welcomed to casually tour the premises from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. To start planning your tour, visit our website and learn more about the other homes in Heritage Park.