is Seadrift's landmark Lafitte Hotel?
It's now on Clegg ranch overlooking the river instead of the bay
13, 2007, PAT HATHCOCK - VICTORIA ADVOCATE
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.
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
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,"
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
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.