Stewart Beach was formally dedicated as a beach park in 1941 — 80 years ago. In that time, it’s been through many changes. I had the chance to talk to some who had some light to shed on this Galveston treasure during its early “glory days.”
Max Wilson was born here in Galveston and has worked at Stewart Beach for nearly 50 years. He’s the owner of John’s Beach Service of Texas and rents chairs and umbrellas to beachgoers seeking some shade and relaxation.
He remembers some of the attractions that used to be at Stewart Beach — including a shooting range.
“There used to be a boardwalk there with a skating rink on one side,” Wilson said. “They used to have a lot of events like music and dancing.”
Wilson said the beach has always been and remains a family destination despite the changes over the years.
“In the 1980s, the park board clamped down with no alcohol and no glass to make it more attractive to families,” Wilson said. “Now, we see a lot of families out here, especially during the weekends. I’m expecting we’ll see a lot of dads out here barbecuing and having fun for Father’s Day.”
Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis also has spent decades going to Stewart Beach. He said he has fond memories of biking to the beach almost every day after school to surf and hang out with his friends.
In his early days as a lifeguard, he said the organization did more than save lives. He said some members of his team served as promoters for the park, bringing in concerts and other entertainment.
As time has passed, things have changed — at Stewart Beach and elsewhere. Davis said this is in part because people now have more competition for their time and resources — especially when it comes to entertainment opportunities. But there’s a chance the glory days can return.
The Galveston Park Board and managers of Stewart Beach Park recently put out a request for qualifications soliciting opportunities for a public/private partnership to help develop this important parcel of beach that has meant so much to so many.
“Stewart Beach is one of the premier family beaches in the state and is a great point of pride for the community,” park board CEO Kelly de Schaun said. “We look forward to making the park and its facilities reflect the image we wish to portray to residents and visitors who have made memories here.”
What are your memories of Stewart Beach? We’d like to hear from you. Post your comments and photos to the Stewart Beach Park Facebook page at www.facebook.com/StewartBeachPark.
Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd Street.