Port Arthur, Texas is a gritty, oil refinery town best known as the place where Janis Joplin grew up. The Procter Street downtown business area has sadly faded away along with Janis’ powerful voice. I hadn’t visited downtown in years, so I went there on February 11th with my Nikon N-90 film camera and three rolls of film.
These scenes convey the despair of downtown Port Arthur – which once thrived with department stores, office buildings, hotels, restaurants and night clubs. The area comes to life once a year for Mardi Gras weekend and then returns to its vacant ambiance. In the early 1990s, elaborate murals of historic scenes were painted on building walls, but these too are disappearing due to the relentless sun and rains of southeast Texas.
But some hope of economic redevelopment is stirring. The World Trade Building on Austin Avenue, an impressive structure built in 1928 with fine architectural details, is slated for conversion to a 170 unit apartment complex. And the Hotel Batiste is being considered for an adaptive reuse such as a school. The refineries in town have announced several billion dollars of expansions which will create jobs and give the local economy a boost. The gasoline you use in New York is most likely refined here.
– Robert Baptista (www.colorantshistory.org)
Civil War Wall Mural – Racial Harmony – Pt. Arthur, TX
Civil War Mural – Robert E. Lee – Pt. Arthur TX
Port Arthur City Limits – Kress Building – Proctor Street
Coca-Cola, Proctor Street
Derelict Hotel Batiste
Golden Light Social Club – Houston Avenue
Derelict Golden Steer Restaurant – Houston Avenue
Derelict Hotel Sabine – Proctor Street
Jet Taxi – Houston Avenue
Loans – Proctor Street
Meat & Bait – Ripped Apart by Hurricane Rita
Reckless Driving Billboard – Proctor Street
Texaco Station – Proctor Street
Verna’s Club – Proctor Street
World Trade Building c. 1928 – Austin Avenue
© Robert Baptista