GALVESTON — Thursday marked the end of an era when crews began demolishing buildings at Fort Crockett that had been part of the seawall landscape since at least the late 1930s.
The buildings, which most recently had ben used as housing by the U.S. Coast Guard, are remnants of a massive military installation dating back to when coastal gun emplacements were important to national security.
The installation at one time encompassed 125 acres between 45th and 49th streets that the federal government bought in 1897.
In the 1990s, the federal government declared the property surplus.
In 2000, the U.S. General Services Administration, on behalf of the Coast Guard, transferred the deed to Max Bowen Enterprises on the condition it abide by covenants calling for preservation and maintenance of the structures.
In 2011, the Texas Attorney General’s Office claimed owners of the historic property had violated deed covenants by failing to maintain and preserve the buildings, indicating an intent to demolish them without state permission.
Neither city officials nor the nonprofit Galveston Historical Foundation have authority to protect the historic structures. But the Texas Historical Commission, holder of the federal covenant, did have a say.
In January, to the chagrin of historic preservationists, the Texas Historical Commission said it wouldn’t appeal a judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit seeking to force preservation, possibly making it easier to sell.
Developers had for years considered condominiums or other uses, but balked at the high cost of renovating the buildings on the site.