The oldest wooden structure house in Brownsville, the Neale House, has been unoccupied for years, but its original frame, floors window shutters, fireplaces and doorbell from the 1800s, still stand.
“This house really represents the ground zero in the development of Brownsville,” said Eugene Fernandez, Historic Brownsville Museum Manager.
“It was much larger than this, it was a rooming house for William Neale and his stage line,” Fernandez said.
Neale was more than a businessman, he was a soldier, historian and Mayor of Brownsville.
He was here before the city was founded and witnessed major historical events, including the Independence of Mexico from Spain, the burning of Fort Brown and a raid from Juan Cortina that took place in this in the right room of the house, that resulted in the death of his son.
“They were shooting up the whole neighborhood and they shot through and unfortunately they killed Peter Neale,” Fernandez said.
Neale and his house survived the raid and the Civil War.
He is known as Brownsville’s oldest inhabitant and is buried in the Old City Cemetery.
His home was given to the Brownsville Art League in 1950 and is now owned by the city, where it is located near near the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
“It is so important, almost as an icon for our historical preservation,” he said.
Neale also founded a colony in the Rio Grande Valley, called Nealeville in present day Santa Maria.