Brownsville: Neale House to move to Mitte Culture District Linear Park
Featured Photo: View of the Neale House on Neale Drive, looking southeast. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Brownsville (Cameron County) – The Municipal Commission is urged to take action today to begin the two-mile journey that will move the Neale House from the university campus to the linear park of the cultural district of Mitte.
The fate of the Neale House, a historic landmark located at the southern end of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley-Brownsville near Fort Brown Resaca, has been a matter of concern for some time. The federal border fence now crosses its back yard and is on a dead end street.
Last November, the town planning department proposed three alternative sites. The City Commission chose the Mitte Linear Park, where it could stand near attractions such as the Gladys Porter Zoo, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Farmer’s Market.
This project has two phases, relocation and renovation. For First phase, a structural engineer would be hired to prepare plans for the construction of a permanent foundation; a contractor will be hired to move the house, which for many years housed the Brownsville Art League.
The first phase does not include utilities, stabilization, roofing or other measures.
The commission must consider whether to proceed at that time. Options include discontinuing the qualification application process or relocating the Neale house and adding it (Ruth mcgonigle, 1902-1984, was the architect of the addition).
An order form was prepared last week for KCI Technologies in the amount of $ 38,000 for structural engineering services. Engineering plans could be ready by June 20, according to the planning department.
The request for a quote for the moving contractor is also active. There is a deadline of June 14 for respondents. The Municipal Commission could make a decision on the award of the moving contractor by July 14.
The second phase concerns the preservation and renovation of the Neale house. Staff report that to rebuild to Home Secretary’s standards for a historic building renovation, the estimated cost would be around $ 900,000, based on $ 270 per square foot.
The Neale House is one of the oldest standing structures in Brownsville. Its builder, William A. Neale, was an Englishman who traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, in 1820 as a soldier of fortune during Mexico’s struggle for independence. In the early 1840s, Neale established a staging line between what is now Port Isabel and the ferry landing at Brownsville.
He assumed many roles in business and politics over the following decades. He founded a hotel in Brownsville, created his own town north of Brownsville (Nealeville), was mayor of Brownsville (1858-1859), captain during the Civil War, inspector of cotton entering Mexico during the Union blockade.
After the federal occupation of 1863, Union troops demolished much of his hotel to rebuild Fort Brown. Neale was able to recover part of the structure, which was then transformed into Neale House. But he maintained his status as an English citizen and neutral during the federal occupation and lived in Matamoros from 1863 to 1865.