Coastal Bend History


A penny at time: The story of Moore Plaza

Posted at 2:36 PM, Jul 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-10 15:36:56-04

When looking for Corpus Christi success stories, few can match that of Alan Lovelace "Dinty" Moore and his wife, Blanche. Moore was a carnival man from Florida who made a fortune in the 1920s and lost it all in the crash of 1929.

He started over in Galveston with a penny arcade on the beach. Looking for better opportunities, he and his wife moved to Corpus Christi in the 1930s and opened another penny arcade on North Beach.


In 1942, he rented the old Lichtenstein's building on Chaparral at Schatzell and moved his arcade into the building.

Diligently saving proceeds from the arcade, he began to buy hundreds of acres of farmland south of the city in the Gardendale settlement. His wife was totally perplexed by his willingness to buy what seemed like worthless land out in the middle of nowhere. He claimed that someday that land would be in the very center of the city and worth a fortune.

As the city spread in that direction, Moore began to sell the land for more than twice what he had paid for it just a few years earlier. By 1950, the Moores had constructed a substantial house on their 200-acre farm at what is today the corner of SPID at Everhart.

Those of us who lived in Corpus Christi in the 50s can't help but remember that sprawling stone house on Lexington Blvd. The penny arcade operator had obviously "done good."

In 1951, Mr. Moore donated 2.8 acres of his land to the Sundeen Independent School District. On December 14, 1951, the new Blanche Moore Elementary School on Williams at Staples was dedicated. Because My family lived in Gardendale (1947-1955), I distinctly remember the Moore house and property, and my sister attended Blanche Moore School. The school existed until the mid-1980s.


Dinty Moore also founded Southside Pony League (originally Gardendale Pony League) and donated land for Dinty Moore Field on Holly Road. The new ballpark was dedicated on July 3, 1954. I chased down my first foul ball for a snow cone at that field!

Unfortunately, Mr. Moore passed away on June 11 of that year at the age of 59. His wife, Blanche, continued to live in the house at 4801 Lexington.

In 1956, the state forced Mrs. Moore to give up a portion of her land on Lexington for the construction of frontage roads on what would eventually become South Padre Island Drive. She was paid $61,000 but later argued that the sale did not include her house. A court battle ensued, resulting in the confiscation of the house in 1959. The state then auctioned the house to Warnecke House Moving and Salvage for $1,850. Mrs. Moore, who had been visiting an ill brother in Alabama, rushed home and had to buy her house back from Warnecke (no price was disclosed)....then had to pay to have the house moved one block south to the corner of Everhart and Williams.

Blanche Moore lived in the house until her death in 1979. It remained on this spot well into the 1980s when the last strip of Dinty Moore's old farm was sold for the construction of Moore Plaza, Walmart, and Builder's Square.


At the time of the sale, that strip of land adjacent to SPID was said to be the most valuable land in the state. The sales price was said to have been in the vicinity of $20 million.....not bad for a couple who started out with a penny arcade.

As called for in the Last Will of Blanche Moore, the money went directly into a trust to create the "Blanche Davis Moore Foundation" in 1993. The foundation today distributes funds to more than 85 charities that serve the children of South Texas.

These days, when I go to visit my parents' gravesite at Seaside, I often stop for a moment at the gravesite of Dinty and Blanche Moore to honor a simple couple who made it big in Corpus Christi. Everything that they gained here has been generously given back many times over.


Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.