1920s-1930s

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By the mid-1920's, the town had become so large that the old aldermannic form of government no longer served. Citizens voted themselves a charter, calling for a city manager as administrative head of government, answering to a mayor and four commissioners.

The first municipal elections under the charter were in April, 1925. The same year, crews began paving the main north-south arteries of the city. The fact that only north-south streets and a few of the north-west were paved has come back to haunt officials faced with paving costs and flooding.

 

"1926 Police Dept." Left to right- Bill Estes, Ben White, Jesus Cantu, Eugene Aguirre, Tomas Aguirre, Fred Lawrence, Chief Arthur Goolsby. Photo courtesy of San Benito Historical Society

Work had also begun on the present sanctuary of St. Benedict's Church, which was consecrated in 1926. The building replaced the old chapel, originally set up as a mission, which had burned in 1923.

The $25,000 structure was largerly the work of the Rev. Yvo Tymen, a former horseback missionary, who lived to see its 50th anniversary in 1976.

 

St. Benedict's Catholic Church. Photo courtesy of San Benito Historical Society

The opportunities seemed endless. In 1928, the Valley Morning Star noted Missouri-Pacific was constructing a new passenger station in San Benito , a Spainsh revival structure which was later demolished for the pavilion. A few issues later, the Star noted new packing sheds were planned.

Two things happened in 1931. The city celebrated the 25th anniversary of its incorporation, and dedicated its airport. The latter event was accompanied by an airshow which would still be considered spectacular. There were luncheons and banquets in the Stonewall Jackson, air races and a formal ball. Dr. Cash donated a trophy to the flying contests, as did a number of business and civic organizations. Flying clubs came from as far away as Houston.

 

 

"Missouri Pacific Depot" c1920. Photo courtesy of San Benito Historical Society

 

For regular entertainment, the city boasted any number of activities. A community band held concerts in a bandstand erected on the library grounds. The 12th Cavalry sent its regimental band up from Ft. Brown to participate and occasionally engage in a "battle of the bands."

The Bohemian Club held dances on the roof of the Aztec Building, obtaining some of the best bands in Texas. There were three movie houses, the Rivoli, the Place and Ruenes, the latter particularly noted for its lavish appointments.

And there were saloons...

 

 

 

 

"La Azteca" Photo courtesy San Benito Historical Society

Among them was Lopez' Place on Travis Street, in business at least as early as 1915, still dispensing beer and "botanas" well into the 1980s.

 

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Photo courtesy of San Benito Historical Society