PAPHA was created November 15, 2002. One of its goals was to create the first historical museum in Port Aransas to preserve and showcase the town’s history. Another was to inventory historic Port Aransas sites.
The site survey was accomplished by obtaining a matching grant in 2006. PAPHA also received the Visionaries in Preservation grant from the Texas Historical Commission, completing the process needed to advance as a preservation organization.
Owners of an early 1900s kit house offered to sell it to PAPHA where it stood. That was not an option due to the cost of land in Port Aransas and the lack of funds in the PAPHA treasury. Another option was for the owners to give the house to PAPHA to move to another location, which is what they did.
In 2007, Preservation Texas, a private, non-profit statewide preservation group, named the house one of the state’s top 12 most endangered structures.
Papers were signed transferring ownership to PAPHA on Feb. 8, 2007. The problem then was where and how to move it, and how to pay for all aspects, including remodeling into a museum after the move.
PAPHA applied for grants, held fundraisers and met with the City of Port Aransas, utility companies and movers. Enough money was raised to move the house, but not for land.
The City Council and City Manger agreed to find a place on city property for a museum, finally settling on part of the Community Center property site.
In April 2008 the house was moved to it’s current location. It was renovated and opened as a museum by December of the same year.
Along with the city’s help and concessions by utility companies, the entire community helped with donations of time, talent, material, equipment, ideas and support. The Port Aransas Garden Club graciously landscaped the Community Center complex with the club’s money and skilled gardeners.
The museum is open three days a week. Over than 30 docents have been trained and work as volunteers in the Port Aransas Museum. The program includes ongoing training for these docents and future docents. Docents give tours; work outreach with schools on historical lessons, games and tutorials; give tours of the Little Chapel on the Hill, and are working with the museum director to establish walking tours.
Copies of more than 12,000 photos and documents pertaining to the history of the city have been archived in a publicly accessible database. All are available for viewing, along with artifacts, oral histories of island locals and movies of Port Aransas in the 1920s.