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Repairs planned for damaged downtown historic landmark

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 13, 2024

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — A historic landmark you have probably driven by countless times was heavily damaged last weekend.

The Balustrade wall that separates Uptown from Downtown Corpus Christi was hit by a vehicle at Leopard Street and Upper Broadway.

The crash caused a big section of the structure to topple over down to Lower Broadway.

Balustrade Damage

The city plans to restore the Blaustrade and that work should begin quickly.

"We already have the design specs because we did this before. We have to make sure it matches the historical significance, the historical features, so good thing is we already have those design specs," City Manager Peter Zanoni said.

The restoration will take two to three months to complete.


The "Bluff Improvement Project”, as it was called at the time, was built between 1915 and 1918 during the term of Mayor Roy Miller. It was built in stages. The first stage began in 1914 between Lawrence and Peoples Streets after voters approved a $15,000 bond to pay for the project.

Balustrade Construction

At the foot of the Bluff where Schatzell and Peoples streets converge, the United Daughters of the Confederacy contracted famed sculptor, Pompeo Coppini, to create a beautiful fountain and sculpture called “Queen of the Sea”. Coppini donated his labor on the work to the city, and much of the funding came from the Corpus Christi Rotary Club (Coppini was himself a Rotarian, and he even incorporated the Rotary Wheel into the base of the sculpture). The Queen of the Sea sculpture and fountain was the city’s first public piece of art.


In 1915, voters approved an additional $150,000 bond, and stage two construction began between Peoples and Mann streets. This section included a magnificent arched entrance to a divided staircase at the head of Starr street and across from the new Federal Courthouse. The final stage of the Bluff Improvement Project extended from Lawrence street southward to Cooper’s Alley. This section was funded by property owners. In 1931, John G. Kennedy donated the land and funding for construction of the World War I Memorial along this section of the Bluff.

Balustrade Tunnel Opening

In 1929, a major addition to the Bluff Improvement Project came with the opening of the Bluff Tunnel. The entrance was behind City Hall and allowed easy access to uptown for pedestrians. The tunnel was open to the public until 1978, but has been closed since then.

Robert Parks - History columnist for KRIS 6 contributed to this story.

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