This two-story Art Moderne building was built by musician and civic leader Rafael Galvan, Sr. in 1950 as a permanent venue for his 15-piece orchestra, the largest big-band in Corpus Christi at the time. From its grand opening performance by Tommy Dorsey, the Galvan Ballroom became the place to see the highest-quality swing, jazz, big band, and conjunto performers.
Shows featured a mix of Spanish and English-language performances with black, white, and Hispanic musicians regularly playing to mixed-race audiences at a time when segregation was still the norm. Beyond music, Galvan advanced the cause of integration as the city’s first Mexican American police officer and a founding member of LULAC.
Opened in the 1960s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the family-run Galvan Music Store still sells instruments and sheet music in the first-story store, itself a fascinating shrine to the performers who graced the ballroom’s stage. The upstairs ballroom can be reserved for private events, but if you ask in the store, you might get to see the historic recessed stage featuring a gold Galvan Orchestra logo.