BAFFIN BAY

HISTORY

In 1904, a man from Minnesota named Theodore F. Koch came to South Texas intent on purchasing land. While en route, he happened upon Robert Kleberg who interested him in 37,000 acres his in-laws (Captain Richard and Mrs. Henrietta King of the famous King Ranch) were looking to sell. At $10 an acre Koch was reluctant to take the offer. This changed after one visit.

“This hill running down to the beach took my fancy for the location of some improvement and a future park and the waters of Baffin Bay I picture to myself as a sustainable location for a resort and bathing beach.” Koch wrote.

On that hill, Koch built a beautiful hotel. He christened the area Riviera seeing it as ‘the French Riviera of south Texas.’ The tiny nearby community on the edge of Baffin Bay became ‘Riviera Beach’ (the word “Riviera” is pronounced “Rivera” by today’s locals).

With a little imagination, it’s not hard to visualize what once was the “Buena Vista Hotel.” An observation deck was built on the roof, looking out over the bay. A restaurant, an icehouse, a general store and an ice cream parlor, all lined up down the sidewalks from the hotel to the ‘dancehall and bathing pavilion’ built out over the water.

Then, World War 1 aftermath and a devastating hurricane in 1916 destroyed the entire community. Koch tried to rebuild, but to no avail. Despite the hotels use as a convalescence home for wounded sailors during WWII, the resort concept of Riviera Beach never again reached its full potential. Finally, after being left abandoned for many years, the hotel burned down in 1952.

Today the area is known for world class fishing and Baffin Bay Seafood and Steaks will be part of the history for great food and spirits!