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[photo] Roma Historic District
Courtesy of the Roma Restoration Project[photo]
Manuel Guerra Residence and Store
Photo from the National Register collection

The 19th-century town of Roma, located on the U.S.-Mexico border, was once an important shipping point for steamboats along the Rio Grande. The site was first settled in 1760 and was named "Roma" in 1848 in honor of the Italian city. Because of its proximity to the river, Roma prospered during the years between the Mexican War and Reconstruction. The Roma Historic District represents an outstanding example of the building techniques of the Lower Rio Grande. These techniques, derived from the 18th-century traditions of northern Mexico, are best exemplified by the finely detailed brick commercial and residential buildings designed and constructed by Heinrich Portscheller. Portscheller, a German immigrant, moved to Roma from Mexico in 1883. He built in both Texas and Mexico and helped influence the distinctive architectural style of the Lower Rio Grande. Examples of his work include the Manuel Guerra House and Store, near the Plaza, constructed between 1878 and 1884; the Antonia Sáenz House; the Tino Ramirez Residence and Store; and the Old Roma Convent, a one story brick building constructed c.1880. Roma contains the largest surviving concentration of Portscheller's work in Texas.

The Roma Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, includes properties along Estrella and Hidalgo sts. between Garfield St. and Bravo Alley in Roma (U.S. 83). The Roma Historical Museum, located at 200 Lincoln, is open 9:00am to 4:00pm Monday-Friday. The Roma Historic District Visitor Station is located at 77 Convent Ave. on the plaza. Call 210-849-0099 for further information. Several buildings within the district have also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.


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