spirit inn of mission valley

Where is Seadrift's landmark Lafitte Hotel?
It's now on Clegg ranch overlooking the river instead of the bay

PORT LAVACA - For her 40th wedding anniversary, Judy Clegg got the porch put back on her hotel.
That was just one of the stories she told recently on the moving and restoration of the Lafitte Hotel.
For almost a century, the Lafitte Hotel was a landmark in Seadrift, a big, handsome three-story white building on Bay Avenue that you could easily pick out from Swan Point or from way out in San Antonio Bay. It was certainly the most distinguished building in Seadrift. When it burned on Sept. 26, 2005, Calhoun County people were devastated. Many had stayed there, been married there, or just had fond and vivid memories of the place.
In the mid-1980s, Weyman and Frances Harding bought the building and ran it as a bed and breakfast.
The fire came right after the Hardings were returning from the Hurricane Rita evacuation. They were napping after unpacking when the fire broke out, according to a Victoria Advocate story. The fire burned long and hard despite the efforts of several fire departments. The third story was burned away and water poured in through the top. Inside, it was a huge mess, soaked and smoked.
Harding daughter Amy Christy said, "I lived there from the time I was 14. My mom and dad bought the hotel in 1984 from Dollie and Les Sanders. It took about four years to restore, so they opened in 1988 as a bed and breakfast."
The B&B was open for 10 years, closed in June 1998. After that, they just lived there.
"It was a nice family home, the best place for the size of our family. My husband and I, when we moved back to Seadrift from Houston, we lived on the third floor." Her Aunt Shirley and Doff Pack also lived there after their home burned.

"I know my cousin and uncle worked for the Cleggs," Christy said, "and the deal was kinda 'Judy would like to restore the hotel,' as opposed to my parents having it completely torn down."
Judy said, "I knew Frances and Weyman. I called and asked what they were going to do with the hotel. They said they were going to tear it down and build a residence. I asked if I could have the hotel if I moved it, and they said yes."
Clegg points out that the Lafitte Hotel would be saved only by being moved. She and John have a business that routinely moves structures, so they were up to the job.
Judy said that they set things up legal and proper. "I was supposed to pay $1 for the building. When we got to closing, I didn't have a dollar. My son was with me and I borrowed the dollar from him.
"Then we went over to take a look at the hotel. He stepped in the front door and looked around and turned to me and said, 'I want my dollar back.'"
The original plan was to cut the bottom floor off and move it first, but complications arose as complications will with old buildings, and they ended up whittling the hotel away from the top. The porch that constituted Judy's anniversary present was removed separately. The entire process took about a year.
Third generation house mover Tony Fowler from Ganado did the actual moving.
The destination was the Clegg ranch on Lower Mission Valley Road. The big first-floor section was raised bit by bit with air bags to get the support beams under it for moving. When moving day finally came, things happened very slowly.
"It took us until noon just to get to the edge of Seadrift," Clegg said.
When they finally got out to the ranch, they cut across the pasture and set the building down on a pad overlooking the Guadalupe River, near the Camino Real Crossing. The second floor's back on, the third floor's back on, Judy got her anniversary porch and the building has a roof.
So, what now? "I don't know what to do with it ... maybe rent it out for corporate retreats," Judy said. "We're not going to rent it for weddings. We own the Power Street Warehouse and we rent it for weddings. I was hoping for a 2010 grand opening, but '09 would be nice because it would be the 100th anniversary of the hotel."
Husband John said that Wayne Dierlam, Victoria County Precinct 4 commissioner and a member of the Dierlam family who ran the place for so long, has put in dibs for the first rental of the building, fittingly as the site for a family reunion.

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Spirit Inn of Mission Valley ~ History
3377 Lower Mission Valley Road ~ Victoria, Texas 77905