Bridge City waterfront park helped by Houseman
ORANGE COUNTY- The vision of a waterfront park on Cow Bayou in Bridge
City became much clearer last Thursday with a proposal by landowner Ms.
Ms. Houseman offered the five-plus acres adjoining the Cow Bayou
Swing Bridge on Hwy-87 at a price well below market value putting it
within reach of the nonprofit Historical
Museum of Bridge City. She also offered more – to build a multi-purpose
facility overlooking the property and bayou.
The new facility will house the vast Tony and Gisela Houseman
collection of art, photography, artifacts and wildlife trophies from
around the world. The facility is intended to provide the children of
Southeast Texas an opportunity to learn about conservation, wildlife and
it’s natural habitat.
Additionally the building would also become a heritage resource center and new home for the Historical Museum of Bridge City.
On March 31, the organization, presented Ms. Houseman with plans for
a future Cow Bayou waterfront park. The presentation included an artist
rendition of the site by Bridge City High School art teacher Debbie
Greg. After discussion, Ms. Houseman expressed her agreement in the
plans by announcing, “I’m in!”
The meeting was attended by several local officials including Orange
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, Bridge City City Manager Jerry Jones,
Orange County EDC director Bobby Fillyaw and park supporters.
On April 28, a follow-up meeting was held. Ms. Houseman revealed
that along with making the property attainable, she would also like to
build a multi-purpose visitor center there and donate the Houseman
“We were speechless, all I could say was ‘awesome,’” said Mark Dunn,
president of the Historical Museum of Bridge City, “It took a few
minutes to sink in. Ms. Houseman’s generosity is very rare. We are
fortunate that we have her here.”
Attending the meeting with Dunn was museum committee member Joe
Chenella and City Manger Jerry Jones. Houseman land manager Shawn
Sparrow and Shirley Walker were also in attendance.
The facility will be designed and constructed by Tony Houseman
Homes. The waterfront park itself will be completed in phases. A master
plan is currently being created with the help of Bridge City architect
The idea for a waterfront park was proposed to Ms. Houseman in 2009
by a small discussion group that included Bridge City Mayor Kirk
Roccaforte, Orange County Parks Director Donna Scales, Jones and Dunn,
then president of the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce.
Also in 2009, the Historical Museum of Bridge City became a 501 (c)
(3) nonprofit charitable organization and took the lead role in
acquiring the property. The organization sought partnership with the
City of Bridge City in August 2010. With support from the City, the
group began the process of visioning and developing plans to help
acquire the property as a waterfront park.
As envisioned, the waterfront park on Cow Bayou would be family
oriented and ideal for numerous recreational and educational activities
and events. It would include an amphitheater,
playgrounds, a broad boardwalk along the bulkhead, period style lighting
throughout the park and along the shoreline, covered picnic tables,
walking trails, floral gardens, concessions and rest rooms. Native bald
cypress, dogwoods, oaks and other vegetation would become part of
The land has historical significance as the site of the infamous Joe
Bailey’s Bridge City Fish Camp near the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge. The
bridge became listed to the National Register of Historic Places in
2010. The Cow Bayou waterfront location, paired with the National
Register property, is the perfect scenerio for opportunities and
benefits of history and heritage based tourism.
Add to that, the Houseman collection and the park takes on another
unique dimension providing education in natural history offering
wildlife educational programs and events. The facility will provide the
opportunity to present information on the world’s wildlife and
ecosystems that encourages discovery and understanding through fun and
Museum board members are becoming the initial donors in in the
Capital Campaign to purchase and develop the property. The Historical Museum of
Bridge City offers individual and corporate donors a tax deduction for
their charitable donations. Donations of goods and services is also tax
To donate to the waterfront park call Joe Chenella at 920-0243, Claudine Hogan at 882-7576, or Mark Dunn at 735-7183
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org