Perfectly Small Cities: Beeville, Texas

Author: Alecia Pirulis  

Hay Bales at Sunrise

Imagine a tiny town that resembles the movie set of an old Western: a snug row of false-front buildings with tall windows and curved cornices, hitching posts, and jaunty overhangs. Wide sidewalks, ideal for strolls on sunny afternoons, line the narrow streets. Walking down the required “main street” is like stepping back into the mid-1800s – so much so that if you close your eyes, you can still hear the hooves of horses as cowboys ride into town.

If you think such a place doesn’t exist anymore, then you’ve never been to Beeville, Texas. This tiny Texas treasure truly is – as the city’s nickname proclaims – a “honey of a town.”

Located about an hour northwest of Corpus Christi, Beeville is in the area of Texas known as the Coastal Bend, a curved strip of land along the Gulf of Mexico. When residents of Beeville want a taste of the “big city” they head to Corpus Christi or drive just an hour or so northwest, to San Antonio. Padre Island is also about an hour’s drive. Padre Island National Seashore is the world’s longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island. The 70 miles of coastline and dunes is a nesting area for sea turtles and nearly 400 bird species. The park also includes Spanish shipwrecks dating back to 1554. Padre Island is popular for camping, fishing, birding, beachcombing, swimming, and picnicking.

Three families settled in the area of Beeville in the 1830s. The settlement didn’t fare so well at first – several skirmishes with the Native American tribes in the area led to several deaths. The surviving settlers moved to the east side of the Medio Creek – that wasn’t an ideal site, either, so in 1859 they moved to Beeville’s current location.  They named the town Maryville, after one of the surviving settlers. They changed the name eight months later to Beeville in honor of Barnard E. Bee. Bee served as secretary of state during the state’s 10-year sovereignty as the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1846.

What makes Beeville stand out, however, isn’t just its unique history. An architect named William Charles Stephenson moved to Beeville from Buffalo, New York in 1908. He had a hip injury that caused him unbearable pain in cold weather, and he’d heard good things about the warm state of Texas. He took the train down to visit and never left – he sent for his wife and daughters and the entire family relocated. Stephenson put his unique stamp on Beeville, designing many of the buildings, homes, schools, the Rialto Theater, and the Bee County Courthouse.

Beeville is a growing community in a great location, only an hour from major cities and the Texas coast. It is home to Coastal Bend College, a two-year college that is home to one of the two glass-blowing facilities in Texas.  The college also contains the Simon Michael Art Gallery.

In 2005, Beeville was recognized as a Texas Main Street City. In 2006 and 2007, Beeville was named a National Main Street City. Beeville has several beautiful parks, great restaurants, and unique shops. If you’d like to live in a unique and “sweet” Texas community, check out apartments in Beeville – it truly is a honey of a town.