Sylvan Beach pavilion


The 1956 Sylvan Beach Pavilion, located in La Porte’s historic Sylvan Beach Park on Galveston Bay, celebrates community values that generations of Harris County residents have associated with the Park.  Social dancing, long a mainstay of the park, is celebrated in the pavilions design that features a 10,000 ft2 glass walled ballroom with a 3,600 ft2 circular dance floor.  Whether the ballroom is used for dancing, or for listening to a music venue, or to provide banquet seating with a breathtaking view, the pavilion can continue to provide for our community as it was originally designed.  Despite years of conscious neglect, this historic building has been successfully renovated, reinstating its status as the showcase venue on Galveston Bay.

Just 5 years ago, in early 2008, the city and county governments announced plans to replace the Pavilion with a multi story hotel and convention center.  The people organized and killed the hotel project by preventing the changing of the parks zoning from residential to commercial.   To insure maximum impact of Hurricane Ike in September, 2008, no efforts were made by the City of La Porte or the County to secure the building prior to or after the storm.  Although it was struck by several large sections of the Sylvan Beach Pier, the robust structure survived.   However, the broken out windows were not boarded up for a month, allowing rain and wildlife to enter the structure.   In July 2009, a Houston businessman offered to invest $1.4M to restore and reopen the Pavilion.  His offer went unanswered while Harris County developed plans to obtain federal HUD funds to demolish and build a new ‘public storm shelter’ at Sylvan Beach.  This grant was rejected in part due to the pavilion being deemed eligible for listing on the National Historic Register (NHR) by the Texas Historical Commissions (THC)  in late 2009 based on our submitted nomination.  Federal dollars can not be inadvertently used to alter or demolish a federally recognized historic structure.   

The Sylvan Beach Pavilion was officially listed in the NHR by the US Park Service on 9 September, 2010.   On 1 February 2011 the THC approved our Recorded Texas Historical Landmark (RTHL) historical marker application that was forwarded by the Harris County Historical Commission.   On 30 March 2011 the THC Antiquities Board reviewed our nomination application and unanimously recommended that the pavilion be awarded State Archeological Landmark (SAL) status.  On 29 July 2011 the State Historical Commissioners unanimously granted the pavilion SAL status.  With the state and federal historic designations in place the building will be protected under the state antiquities code and the US Department of the Interior Section 106 Guidelines.  The Texas Historical Commission will administer the antiquities code and 106 guidelines by issuing all pavilion work permits  

On 21 September 2010 the Texas Department of Rural Affairs (TDRA) announced that a $4.5M HUD CDBG for its full restoration with THC oversight.  The TDRA stated that it is only because of our successful effort in achieving the NHR listing that this grant was awarded.   However the County did not initiate the project until early 2011 following the election and swearing in of the new Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman. 

On 1 April 2011 Harris County issued the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for architectural services for the pavilions restoration.   15 architectural firms submitted high quality, competitive submissions.  A panel of 6 county and 1 representative from FSBP&P reviewed and scored the written submissions, and then conducted interviews of the top 5 firms.   On 21 June HC Commissioners Court approved the panels top choice by awarding John Kirksey Associates, Architects, Inc. the restoration contract.   On 6 December, 2012 Harris County Commissioners Court approved SpawGlass Construction Corp. as the construction manager for the pavilion based on the evaluation panel that included 2 representatives from FSBP&P.   Renovation work was completed in early July 2013 and Commissioners Court on 23 July approved a lease with Shafaii Inc., Party and Reception Center, Inc. to operate the pavilion for the next 4 years. 

The grand reopening of this historic venue

occurred on Friday, 25 October 2013 with a 

ribbon cutting and unveiling of the historic

plaque at 10 am.  The Grand Reopening of

the Ballroom that evening was sold out and

was enjoyed by all.   As noted on the

Houston Chronicle editorial page, the public

experienced the ‘groovy mid century

modern party room’ that is the ballroom. 

The renovation has successfully brought the

building back to its original 1956 luster,

allowing future generations of Harris County

residents to once again enjoy this unique venue

on Galveston Bay. 

Since its reopening the Sylvan Beach Pavilion

has been very popular with total annual

bookings increasing each year.  However most

bookings are for private or corporate events

with few public events.  Moving forward our

educational nonprofit wants to sponsor at least

one public event per year.  Our most popular

public event has been our New Years Eve Gala

that we have hosted every year except 2016

when it was booked more than a year in

advance for a private wedding.  We would

also like to capture your memories of past

pavilion events over the last 60 years. 

Please contact us through the Email link at

the top of this page for more information. 

If you would like to make a tax deductible

donation to our 501(c)(3) registered educational

non profit, please click on the link below,

or mail a check, payable to Friends of Sylvan

Beach Park & Pavilion (FSBP&P), to

2404 Hopkins St., Houston, Texas 77006

Please check with your employer

to see if they can match your donation. 

Please visit the rest of the website and

return often for updates and announcements. 

Also visit our Facebook page:

Email us at:

Website last updated 20 October 2017

by Ted Powell

President, FSBP&P

The 1956 Sylvan Beach Pavilion was designed by R.H.Brogniez of the architectural firm of Greacen & Brogniez.  This award winning design has served our community for over 50 years

Pictures (L) from the Estate of .R.H. Brogneiez.   and (B) records of T.Greacen (Metropolitan Research Center)

The 1956 Sylvan Beach Pavilion

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