Beaumont, TexasBeaumont ( ) is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, in the United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located in Southeast Texas on the Neches River about east of Houston (city center to city center), Beaumont had a population of 117,267 at the time of the 2010 census, making it the 30th most populous city in the state of Texas.
Beaumont was founded in 1835. The pioneer settlement had an economy based on the development of lumber, farming, and port industries. In 1892, Joseph Eloi Broussard opened the first commercially successful rice mill in Texas, stimulating development of rice farming in the area; he also started an irrigation company (since 1933 established as the Lower Neches Valley Authority) to support rice culture. Rice became an important commodity crop in Texas and is now cultivated in 23 counties.
A big change occurred in 1901 with the Spindletop gusher, which demonstrated that a huge oil field lay underneath and adjacent to the city. With Spindletop, several energy companies developed in Beaumont, and some remain. The area rapidly developed as one of the country's major petro-chemical refining areas. Along with Port Arthur and Orange, Beaumont forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Beaumont is home to Lamar University, a national Carnegie Doctoral Research university with 14,966 students, including undergraduates and postgraduates. Over the years, several corporations have been based in this city, including Gulf States Utilities, which had its headquarters in Beaumont until its takeover by Entergy Corporation in 1993. GSU's Edison Plaza headquarters remains the tallest building in Beaumont.
In 1824 Bobby and Nancy Tevis settled on the west bank of the Neches River and developed a farm. Soon after that, a small community grew up around the farm, which was named Tevis Bluff or Neches River Settlement. In 1835 the land of Tevis, together with the nearby community of Santa Anna (in total, 50 acre), was purchased by Henry Millard (1796?–1844), Joseph Pulsifer (1805–1861), and Thomas Byers Huling (1804–1865). They began planning a town to be laid out on this land. Their partnership, J.P. Pulsifer and Company, controlled the first 50 acre upon which the town was founded. This town was named Beaumont, after Mary Dewburleigh Barlace Warren Beaumont, the wife of Henry Millard. They added more property for a total of 200 acres.
Beaumont became a town on 16 December 1838. Beaumont's first mayor was Alexander Calder. From the town's founding in 1835, business activities included real estate, transportation, and retail sales. Later, other businesses were formed, especially in railroad construction and operation, new building construction, lumber sales, and communications. The Port of Beaumont became a successful regional shipping center. Beaumont was a small center for cattle raisers and farmers in its early years. With an active riverport by the 1880s, it became an important lumber and rice-milling town. The city exported rice as a commodity crop. Beaumont's lumber boom, which reached its peak in the late 19th century, was stimulated by the rebuilding and expansion of the railroads in the state and region after the Civil War.
The Beaumont Rice Mill, founded in 1892 by Joseph Eloi Broussard, was the first commercially successful rice mill in Texas. In addition, Broussard cofounded the Beaumont Irrigation Company in 1898 to operate an irrigation system to support rice culture. The company along with four others established around the same time helped stimulate the expansion of rice cultivation from 1500 acres in 1892 to 400,000 acres in 23 counties by his death in 1956. The other companies were The Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company, The McFaddin-Wiess-Kyle Canal Company, the Treadaway or Neches Canal Company, and the Taylors-Hillebrand complex. The holdings of those companies formed the basis for the Lower Neches Valley Authority established by the state legislature in 1933.
The rise of Beaumont's mill economy drew many new residents to the city, many of them immigrants. The first Jewish man in the city was from Louisiana, others migrated from the South, and were joined by immigrants. They worked as merchants and in a variety of jobs in the growing city and ranching area. In 1895 Jews formed their first congregation. By the early 20th century, the city was served by the Southern Pacific; Kansas City Southern, Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe; and Missouri Pacific railroad systems.Oil was discovered at nearby Spindletop on 10 January 1901. Spindletop became the first major oil field and one of the largest in American history. With the discovery of oil at Spindletop, Beaumont's population more than tripled in two months from 9,000 in January 1901 to 30,000 in March 1901. Oil is, and has always been, a major export of the city, and a major contributor to the national GDP.
William Casper Tyrrell, nicknamed "Captain W.C.", was a leading businessman and oil tycoon in the city in the early 20th century, developing businesses during the Texas Oil Boom. An entrepreneur from Pennsylvania and Iowa, he arrived after the gusher at Spindletop, and invested in development of a commercial port in the city, and an irrigation system to support the local rice industry, as well as residential and retail development of suburban property. He was also a philanthropist. He purchased and donated First Baptist Church, whose congregation had moved to a new facility, to use as the city's first public library, now known as the Tyrrell Historical Library.
When the city became a major center for defense shipbuilding during World War II, tens of thousands of rural Texans migrated there for the new high-paying jobs. The Roosevelt administration ordered the defense industry to be integrated, and many Southern whites were working closely with blacks for the first time. Housing was scarce in the crowded city, and racial tensions increased. In June 1943 after workers at the Pennsylvania shipyard in Beaumont learned that a white woman had accused a black man of raping her, nearly 2,000 went to the jail where a suspect was being held, attracting more men along the way and reaching a total of 4,000. Ultimately the white mob rioted for three days, destroying major black neighborhoods and killing five persons. No one was prosecuted for the deaths. The riot in Beaumont was one of several in 1943 which centered in the defense industry, including Los Angeles, Detroit, and Mobile, Alabama as well as other cities across the country. The wartime social disruption was similar to war time riots which had occurred in other parts of the country during and following World War I.
During the war years, airmen cadets from the Royal Air Force, flying from their training base at Terrell, Texas, routinely flew to Beaumont on training flights. The community served as a stand-in for the British for Paris, France, which was the same distance from London, England as Beaumont is from Terrell.
In the postwar years, Beaumont's port continued in importance. As was typical with other cities, post-war highway construction led to the development of new suburbs and dispersal of the population in search of new housing. Recently, there has been some renewal in Downtown Beaumont and in other areas of the city.
In 1996, the Jefferson County courts, located in Beaumont, became the first court in the nation to implement electronic filing and service of court documents. This eliminated the need for law firms to print and mail reams of documents.
In 2005 and 2008, Beaumont and surrounding areas suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike, respectively. Mandatory evacuations were issued in advance of both storms.
In August 2017, Beaumont and surrounding areas experienced severe flooding as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Due to the flooding, Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital evacuated all of its highest level of acuity patients with the help of National Guard helicopters. In addition, many Beaumont residents had to be rescued by both boats and helicopters as a result of the floodwaters. , many residents in the area are still attempting to recover from the hurricane.
GeographyAccording to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 222.3 km2, of which 214.5 km2 are land and 7.9 km2, or 3.53%, are water.
Beaumont lies on Texas' coastal plain, about 30 mi inland from the Gulf of Mexico, east of Houston, and just south of the dense pine forests of East Texas. The city is bordered on the east by the Neches River and to the north by Pine Island Bayou. Before being settled, the area was crisscrossed by numerous small streams. Most of these streams have since been filled in or converted for drainage purposes. The island directly across from Riverfront Park is called Trinity Island. There are also three other islands in the Neches River around the downtown area/port: Harbor, Smith and Clark. Beaumont is relatively flat compared to other Texas cites at being 16 ft. above sea level. South of Beaumont, Port Arthur is only 7 ft. above sea level.
Towns and communitiesSeveral towns and communities have been absorbed into the city of Beaumont. These include: Amelia, established in 1885 and incorporated into Beaumont in 1956; Elizabeth, the depot of Amelia that was established around 1903 or after and annexed into Beaumont in 1957; Elwood, established sometimes in the late 1800s, changed to Voth in 1902, and annexed into Beaumont in 1957; Guffey, post office was established in 1901 and closed in 1925 but is part of Beaumont now; Santa Anna, became part of Beaumont when it was founded; Tevis Bluff, became part of Beaumont when it was founded in 1835.
ClimateThe city of Beaumont is within the humid subtropical climate regime, and is within the Piney Woods region of eastern Texas. The area around Beaumont receives the most rainfall in the state: more than 48 in annually. The city has two distinct seasons, a wet season from April to October and a dry season from November to March. Hurricanes also pose a threat to the region. Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008 both caused significant damage. Both Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019 caused historic flooding throughout the city.
On August 18, 2009, a tornado hit the west side of Beaumont, causing damage to cars and several local businesses. Injuries were minimal.
While wintry precipitation is unusual, it does occur. The most recent significant wintry event to occur was December 8, 2017 when the Southeast Texas Regional Airport recorded 3 inches of snowfall. December 11, 2008 and December 4, 2009 were also days that Beaumont saw measurable snowfall. Snow also fell across the Beaumont area on Christmas Eve 2004. In January 1997, a severe and historic ice storm struck the region, leaving thousands without power and major tree damage in its wake. In unofficial records, Beaumont received as much as 30 inches of snow during the blizzard of February 1895 that impacted the Gulf Coast.The Beaumont-Port Arthur region has historically been cited as one of the most polluted urban areas in the United States due to various energy industries and chemical plants in the area. Even so, , the Beaumont-Port Arthur region was not under any Environmental Protection Agency non-attainment restrictions; however, counties in the Greater Houston area, the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, and El Paso were. , the Beaumont-Port Arthur area was not under any Texas Commission on Environmental Quality attainment compliance deadlines. Regardless, according to an article published in 2007 focusing on Port Arthur, a neighboring city to the southeast of Beaumont, pollution was believed to have caused some area residents to become sick. This has generated debates throughout the local media.
DemographicsAs of the census of 2010, there were 118,296 people, 45,648 households, and 28,859 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,339.4 people per square mile (517.2/km²). There were 48,815 housing units at an average density of 574.2 per square mile (221.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 33.5% non-Hispanic White, 47.3% African American, 0.0% Native American, 3.3% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 7.1% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.4% of the population.
There were 45,648 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.7% were married couples living together, 19.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the city, the population was spread out with 28.3% the age of 19 or under, 8.5% from 20 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 95 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,699, according to the American Community Survey (5 year), and the median income for a family was $49,766. The per capita income for the city was $23,137. About 17.6% of families and 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line.
According to the City's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report the top employers in the city are:A significant element of the region's economy is the Port of Beaumont, the nation's fourth-largest seaport by tonnage. The 842d Transportation Battalion, and the 596th Transportation Group are both stationed at the port in Beaumont.
In addition to companies doing business within the city limits, several large industrial facilities are located within the city's five-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction boundaries including the ExxonMobil Beaumont refinery and chemical plants, Goodyear Beaumont chemical plant, and DuPont chemical plant.
Jason's Deli has its headquarters in Beaumont. Conn's Appliances did have its headquarters in Beaumont; however, in mid-2012, Conn's moved its corporate headquarters to The Woodlands. Originally Sweet Leaf Tea Company had its headquarters in Beaumont. The headquarters moved to Austin in October 2003.
Businesses associated with Beaumont
Arts and theatre
Museums and buildings open for tours
Other historic buildings
Tourism and recreation
In downtown BeaumontDowntown Beaumont is the center of Business, Government and night time entertainment in southeast Texas. Downtown features the Crockett Street Entertainment Complex with entertainment options from dancing, to live music to dining or a bar. In addition to the night time entertainment downtown also features a museum district with five distinct museums.
Other entertainment and recreation venues located downtown include the following.
University sportsThe sports teams of Lamar University compete in Division I NCAA athletics as the Lamar Cardinals. The athletics program is a full member of the Southland Conference. The Cardinals and Lady Cardinals compete in 17 varsity sports. The Cardinals Basketball team plays in the Montagne Center and Cardinals Baseball Team plays in Vincent-Beck Stadium.
The university brought back football in 2010. As part of the return, Provost Umphrey Stadium was completely renovated. The return was official when the Cardinals Football team played its first game in 21 years in the fall of 2010. The team currently competes in the Southland Conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).
Local governmentAccording to the city's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city's various funds had $219.0 million in revenues, $202.8 million in expenditures, $900.1 million in total assets, $586.8 million in total liabilities, and $202.2 million in cash and investments.
PoliticsBeaumont is a council–manager form of government. Elections are held annually, with the Mayor and Council members each serving two-year terms. All powers of the City are vested in the Council, which enacts local legislation, adopts budgets, and determines policies. Council is also responsible for appointing the City Attorney, the City Clerk and Magistrates, and the City Manager. The city council is composed of two council members elected at-large, and four council members each elected from single-member districts, the four Wards of the city.
State facilitiesThe Texas Department of Transportation operates the Beaumont District Office in Beaumont.
The Texas Ninth Court of Appeals is located in the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the Beaumont District Parole Office in Beaumont. The Texas Department of Corrections operates three facilities of various custody types in unincorporated areas of Jefferson County, with a total capacity of about 7500 inmates.
Federal facilitiesThe Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the Beaumont Federal Correctional Complex in an unincorporated area in Jefferson County, south of Beaumont.
Colleges and universities
Lamar UniversityBeaumont has one state university, Lamar University, which is a part of the Texas State University System. Lamar University was established in 1923 as South Park Junior College. The university is currently classified as a national university. It is also classified as a Doctoral Research University – Moderate Research Activity by the Carnegie Foundation. With over 100 degrees offered, the university's main academic offerings are in Business, Nursing, Teaching and Engineering. Lamar University's enrollment has grown tremendously in the first decade of the 21st century. This has prompted a building boom at the campus. The school's enrollment as of Fall, 2015 was above 14,966 students.
Lamar Institute of TechnologyLamar Institute of Technology, located directly adjacent to Lamar University, serves as the region's technical college for two-year degrees and certificates. Originally a part of Lamar University and its predecessors since 1923, Lamar Institute of Technology was chartered in 1949 when the Lamar College Bill was passed. The bill was sponsored in the Texas Legislature by State Representative Jack Brooks and Senator W.R. Cousins, Jr. of Beaumont. Lamar Institute of Technology became a separate entity in 1995. As of Fall, 2014, enrollment totaled 2,920 students.
Primary and secondary schoolsBeaumont is served by the Beaumont Independent School District.
Harmony Science Academy of Beaumont, public charter school. Premier High School of Beaumont, also a public charter school in Beaumont.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Beaumont runs three Catholic elementary schools in Beaumont, St. Anne Catholic School, St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School, and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School. Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School is the city's lone Catholic high school. Legacy Christian Academy, on Highway 105, enrolls PK-3 through 12th grade.
Residents who live in unincorporated Jefferson County, but have a Beaumont address, are zoned either to Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District (south of Beaumont) or Hardin-Jefferson Independent School District (west of Major Drive and Highway 90).
The Beaumont Enterprise is the only daily newspaper serving Beaumont. Operating since 1880 The Enterprise is one of the oldest continually operated business in Beaumont. It is operated by the Hearst Corporation. Two weekly publications The Examiner and The Southeast Texas Record serve Beaumont and the area. The Examiner is primarily an investigative reporting paper. the Southeast Texas Record is a legal journal that covers Jefferson and Orange County courts.
TransportationJack Brooks Regional Airport (BPT), located 9 mi south of Beaumont's central business district, serves the region with regional jet flights nonstop to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW), Texas with this scheduled passenger service being operated by American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines. The Beaumont Municipal Airport (BMT) near the western city limit is available for general aviation travel.
The Port of Beaumont is located on the Neches River at Beaumont.
Amtrak's Sunset Limited serves the Beaumont train station.
The city operates the Beaumont Municipal Transit System, a citywide bus system called (BMT).
Notable peopleFor a more extensive list of people associated with Beaumont, Texas see: People from Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont has 8 buildings over 100 ft tall, the tallest being the Edison Plaza, which is 254 ft tall. The old Edson Hotel, built in 1928 is nearly the same height at 240 ft. One of the most prominent downtown buildings is the 15-story San Jacinto Building. Built in 1921, it sports one of the largest four faced clock towers in the nation, each dial being 17 ft in diameter. In 1922 the 11-story Hotel Beaumont was built across the street from the San Jacinto. The Hotel Beaumont bears a resemblance to the old Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta. The second oil boom of 1925 brought more people and wealth to Beaumont, the same year the 12-story American National Bank Building (now Orleans Building), was erected, and in 1926 Forrest Goodhue built the 12-story Goodhue Building which included a penthouse. In 1928, the Edson Hotel was built. No other buildings were built until Century Tower in 1962 and in 1982 Edison Plaza was built. In 1994 the 12-story LaSalle Hotel, built in 1927, was demolished.
The Jefferson Theatre was built in 1927 by the Jefferson Amusement Company for $1 million and was Beaumont's showpiece for many years. In 1928 the City Hall and Auditorium was built. It is now the Julie Rogers Theater.
Beaumont's Jefferson County Courthouse is one of the tallest county courthouses in the state and is an excellent example of Art Deco architecture. Across the street from the Jack Brooks Federal Building is the Kyle Building, built in 1933. The storefront was recently restored and is considered to be one of the best examples of Zig-Zag architecture in Texas.
The Oaks Historic District has many restored historic homes.