There is one place in Port Arthur that has always fascinated me even though I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting it. Over the years, the grounds of Eddingston Court have made me think of English-inspired flats and gardens. So how did this property come to be, and what is its history?
In 1929 Port Arthur was short of rental properties due in part to the expanding oil industry. Tugboat captain and businessman Ambrose Eddingston saw an opportunity and commissioned the construction of four two-story Tudor brick apartment buildings along with a pond, which lay in the middle of the drive between the buildings. A one-story brick ranch-style home was also built at the end of the drive.
Given the time it was built, circa 1929, it must have been quite a sight to see the finished edifice. I have personally always been a fan of English architecture and gardens, so to have been among the Port Arthur residents of the period would no doubt have just added to my ardor.
Given the eccentric flare of the property’s pond and structures, you would think that these would have been sufficient, but Ambrose Eddingston had another visual treat for passersby. The captain had 6,000 Conch shells imported from the Caymen Islands, and these went into the construction of a wall at the front of the property. Ambrose Eddingston commissioned Dionicio Rodriguez, a Mexican-born sculpture who was living in San Antonio at the time, to construct the fence and the pond. (As an aside, Rodriguez was not only known for his wonderful works, but he also perfected a process in which he carved chemically treated reinforced concrete so that it looked like wood.)
During the subsequent 76 years, this property underwent a few minor changes but still maintained its English-style charm, providing tenants with a place to call home. Some residents even stayed for multiple decades. Sadly, just as with many other properties in this area, Hurricane Rita unleashed her fury upon it, and it was damaged. In 2008, Hurricane Ike also damaged the structures, and it has lain vacant ever since.
Nowadays, you will notice as you go past the property that this glamorous artistic treasure is barricaded by a chain link fence, and a “For Sale” sign is in plain view. I can only imagine the state of the structures, which have been left as is, waiting until a new owner comes in and restores this historic gem to its former glory. Hopefully this is one Port Arthur property that will escape the wrecking ball, unlike so many other buildings over the years that have not.