Beaumont was founded as a town in 1835. The early European-American 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 the state, 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 the potential of the huge oil field. With Spindletop, several energy companies developed in Beaumont, and some continue. The area rapidly developed as one of the major petro-chemical refining areas in the country. Along with Port Arthur and Orange, Beaumont forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the Texas Gulf Coast.
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 acres (20 ha)), 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 acres (200,000 m2) 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.
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. As of October 2018[update], many residents in the area are still attempting to recover from the hurricane.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 85.8 square miles (222.3 km2), of which 82.8 square miles (214.5 km2) are land and 3.1 square miles (7.9 km2), or 3.53%, are water.
Beaumont lies on Texas' coastal plain, about 30 miles (48 km) inland from the Gulf of Mexico, 85 miles (137 km) 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.
The 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 inches (1,200 mm) annually. Summers in the area are usually hot and humid, due to the moisture that flows inland off of the Gulf of Mexico. Winters are usually kept mild by the warm gulf waters. Hurricanes also pose a threat to the region. Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008 both caused significant damage. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 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.
Climate data for Beaumont, Texas (1981–2010 normals)
Source: NOAA The Weather Channel (records)
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, as of July 2014[update], 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. As of October 2014[update], 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.
As 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 2014 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.
Bethlehem Steel/Trinity Industries Shipyard: dating from 1917 to 1994 under the names of Beaumont Shipbuilding and Drydock Company (1917-1922), Pennsylvania Shipyards (1922-1948), Bethlehem Steel Company (1948-1988), and Trinity Industries (1989-1994). Over eight hundred (800) vessels were built and repaired at the shipyard including barges, ships, and offshore drilling rigs including seventy-two (72) jack up offshore drilling rigs, the second-most offshore drilling rigs built in the United States, and seventy-one (71) Type C1 ships built for the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II
Conn's: Chain of appliance and electronic stores; now headquartered in The Woodlands 
Dresser Industries: A Dresser-Ideco plant was a major employer for seventy-seven years. The plant, with around 350 employees, closed in 1985.
Gulf Oil: Gulf Oil Company founded 1901, now Chevron
Humble Oil: 50% of Humble Oil sold to Standard Oil of NJ to build its first refinery in Baytown. Merged and renamed Exxon 1972. Now ExxonMobil
Magnolia Petroleum Company: Startup began in Corsicana in 1898, but became a major company in Beaumont in 1901. Owned KFDM radio, now 560 KLVI, in the 1930s through the 1950s. Its refinery in Beaumont along with Texas Oil Co. & Gulf's in Port Arthur, Texas were 3 of the largest in the world. Magnolia later sold 45% ownership to Standard Oil of NY, Socony. Combined companies years later into Mobil now ExxonMobil
Port of Beaumont: Young town of Beaumont grew quicker around this harbor about 1840 and would mark the spot that would become the port. Ranks consistently among the top five ports in the country for tonnage
Sweet Leaf Tea: A ready-to-drink organic tea company started in Beaumont in 1998 by Clayton Christopher and David Smith, later moved to Austin, Texas.
The Texas Oil Company: Founded in 1902 just west of Beaumont (Sour Lake, Texas) became Texaco;, now owned/part of Chevron formerly Standard Oil Company of California.
The Texas Coffee Company: Home of Seaport Coffees and Texjoy Steak Seasoning among other products distributed regionally. The company was founded in 1921 by Charles J. Fertitta, Sr. In 1968, the Texas Coffee Company became the first company in the United States to begin packaging coffee in vacuum-packed foil bags.
Arts and theatre
Museums and buildings open for tours
Art Museum of Southeast Texas, notice the last remaining column from the Perlstein Building.
Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET), with its Perlstein Plaza, dedicated in memory of pioneer real estate developer Hyman Asher Perlstein (1869–1947), who arrived in Beaumont in 1889 as a poor Jewish immigrant from Lithuania and eventually became one of the city's major builders. The museum stands on the site of the Perlstein building, which was the tallest structure between Houston and New Orleans when it was erected in 1907. Only one column still remains from the building. AMSET, formerly the Beaumont Art Museum, exhibits 19th–21st century American art with a collecting focus on Texas art and Folk Art and offers 10–14 educational programs in any given year. Admission is free, and is the only museum open seven days per week.
The Art Studio (TASI), a non-profit arts cooperative and art gallery space that rents subsidized space to visual artists. Also hosts poetry readings, music events, film screenings. Housed in a converted warehouse in the industrial district of Beaumont's downtown.
The Beaumont Art League is the oldest non-profit art gallery in the area, operating for 70 years. The two gallery spaces (at the old Fairgrounds on Gulf Street) host art exhibitions and juried shows year-round, including the notable BAL National Exhibition (formerly the Tri-State Show), which attracts artists from across the country.
The Chambers House, built in 1906, this home is open for tours. It is filled with period furniture, personal items, and artifacts used in the home.
The Clifton Steamboat Museum opened on 26 October 1995. The theme of the museum is "Heroes... Past, Present, and Future", honoring military and civilian heroes. The Clifton Steamboat Museum consists of a 24,000 square feet (2,200 m2), two-story museum. Exhibits bring to life the wars fought in Southeast Texas and Louisiana, as well as the Steamboat Era, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam. Upper art galleries of the museum feature original bronze sculptures; Native American artists, wildlife, and frontier paintings from famous artists. A special gallery in the museum is dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America. This gallery features many historical scouting artifacts, some dating before the 1960s. The tugboat, Hercules, 36 feet (11 m) high, 22 feet (6.7 m) wide, and 92 feet (28 m) long, is included on the museum tour. Tours available by appointment only.
Dishman Art Museum is the university art museum of Lamar University. The museum features 19th and 20th century European and American Art, as well as Tribal Art from Africa and New Guinea.
Fire Museum of Texas – Home of one of world's largest fire hydrants. Antique fire trucks and equipment chronicle the history of firefighting in Texas. Educational programs stress the importance of fire safety.
John Jay French House. This historic home is operated as a museum, to illustrate the life of a prosperous Texas pioneer family from 1845 to 1865. French, a tanner and merchant, built his home in 1845; it showcases period furnishings, clothing and pioneer household utensils. Outbuildings on the grounds include a blacksmith shop, tannery, privy and smokehouse.
The McFaddin-Ward House, was built in 1905–06 in the Beaux-Arts Colonial style and is located in the Oaks Historic District. The structure and its furnishings reflect the prominent family who lived in the house for seventy-five years. This very large historic home has a substantial carriage house. The complex has a substantial permanent collection of antique furniture and household items. Educational programs focus on history and are geared toward children and adults.
Crockett Street Entertainment District The entertainment district includes five vintage buildings dating from around the turn of the 20th century. Each of the buildings has been renovated and several have been re-purposed to restaurants and entertainment.
The Jefferson Theatre, built in 1927, is an historic theater that presents live musical and stage performances as well as limited revival screenings of classic films. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and recognized also as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
Julie Rogers Theater was formerly Beaumont's city hall and civic auditorium. The building was renovated to serve as a theater for live performances.
Beaumont Community Players - Begun in 1925, the Beaumont Community Players have performed several plays and musicals each year except for the World War II period. The Community Players have had several homes over the years including Little Theatre at Fair Park and Jefferson Theatre. Performances are now at the Betty Greenburg Center for Performing Arts.
Tyrrell Park and Cattail Marsh features a botanical gardens and conservatory, the Henry Homberg Municipal Golf Course, a 900-acre cattail marsh nature area, and a 2.8 mile nature trail. restrooms, shelters, Babe Zaharias Drive Monument, baseball backstop, lighted basketball goals, benches, drinking fountains, 2.8-mile (4.5 km) nature trail, picnic tables
Neches River Adventures is a two-hour eco-tour down the Neches River and bayous.
Ford Park includes Ford Arena, as well as twelve competition softball fields, and exhibit halls.
Downtown 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.
The Event Centre and plaza features include a twelve-acre Great Lawn for concerts and a walking path. A 3,800 sq ft canopy with stage overlooks the Great Lawn, and a 14,000 sq ft canopy overlooks a two-acre lake with a thirty-five foot fountain. A 16,000 sq ft event hall is used for indoor events.
Beautiful Mountain Skate Plaza' - Located adjacent to the Event Centre is the 10,000 sq ft skate park. The skate park opened in 2013. The park includes ledges, rails, banks, bank-to-bank, quarter pipes, and stairs. The park also has an amphitheater for other events.
Since 1907, Beaumont has been home of the South Texas State Fair and Rodeo, held at Ford Park during March. It is the second-largest fair in the state, attracting more than 500,000 visitors in 2009. The fair features a livestock show, a commercial exhibition, a carnival midway and numerous food choices. The Fair moved from the Fair Park Coliseum to Ford Park in 2004, a new, larger facility on the west end of Beaumont. The fair was previously held in the fall but was moved to spring after hurricanes Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008 caused its cancellation twice within three years. YMBL Championship Rodeo is held at Ford Park during the South Texas State Fair. The rodeo is an annual event and is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Admission to the rodeo is included in fair admission.
July 4 Celebration - Each year, a July 4 celebration is held in downtown Beaumont. The celebration includes live music in and around Riverfront Park, a concert by the Symphony of Southeast Texas in the Julie Rogers Theatre, followed by a fireworks display viewed from Riverfront Park.
Lunch at the Lake - Each Monday starting in March, the City of Beaumont provides live music and seating at the Event Centre in downtown Beaumont. Ten vendors feature a wide choice of food selections.
Downtown Winter Parade - On the first Saturday of December, downtown hosts the Beaumont Downtown Winter Parade. The parade features floats that travel down Main, College and Pearl streets. In recent years the parade has also featured a lighted boat parade that travels down the Neches River; spectators can watch from Riverfront Park.
Neches River Festival Parade - Part of the Neches River Festival held in April, this is a downtown parade. The festival has been held since 1948.
The Oxford City F.C. Of Texas plays at Ford Arena, As a farm team of Oxford City F.C.
According 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.
Beaumont 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.
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.
Beaumont 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 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.
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.
KBMT-LD/K36ID LMAed by KBMT/London from KVHP; RF channel 43/36 and PSIP 12.5/.6 with MyTV on 12.5
LUTV Lamar University's video service that provides C-SPAN-like coverage on local government proceedings, and original programming from students. It does not have an over the air channel and is available only on cable TV.
The region currently has no PBS station of its own; KUHT on channel 8 and KLTL on channel 20 (a Louisiana Public Broadcasting affiliate) do not reach the area. KUHT has a construction permit for a digital translator on RF 24, which would share KFDM's antenna on 25 but the University of Houston has had financial cutbacks and recently cancelled a translator application in Victoria. What outcome this will have on the Beaumont facility remains to be seen.
Beaumont has 8 buildings over 100 feet (30 m) tall, the tallest being the Edison Plaza, which is 254 feet (77 m) tall. The old Edson Hotel, built in 1928 is nearly the same height at 240 feet (73 m). 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 feet (5.2 m) 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.
^"Detroit Race Riots 1943". WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved September 22, 2015. In many cities the demands of wartime were manifesting themselves in outbursts of intolerance. Race riots had already erupted in Los Angeles, as well as Mobile, Alabama, and Beaumont, Texas.
^"Kevin Russell". AllMusic. Retrieved January 19, 2015. When Kevin was in junior high, his dad moved them from Beaumont, TX, to Houston. Unsettled by the change from a blue-collar neighborhood to the high-class suburbs, Russell turned to guitar and writing songs.
"Banking in Beaumont 1960–2006", Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record (Nov 2007), Vol. 43, pp 2–6; Examines the banking system since the 1960s and the effects of the One Bank Holding Company Act of 1970.
Faucett, William T. "Shipbuilding in Beaumont during World War II", Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record 2005 41: 55–65.
Linsley, Judith Walker; Rienstra, Ellen Walker; and Stiles, Jo Ann. Giant under the Hill: A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901 (Austin: Texas State Hist. Assoc., 2002). 304 pp.