Shary-Shivers Estate open to tours in January
Posted: 12/18/2003
Share |

The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation's International Women's Board (IWB) is hosting its annual holiday tours of the historic Shary-Shivers Estate in January 2004. Tour dates and hours will be 8:30-11:15 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 10 and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11.

The tours are open to the public with a $10 general admission fee. Senior citizens 55 years and over will be charged $8. There will be no pre-sold tickets so the tours, which are docent guided, are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The University of Texas-Pan American's International Women's Board is sponsoring their annual tour of the historic Shary-Shivers Estate on Jan. 10-11. The house will be decorated in the Christmas theme of "Holidays in Bloom". Gathering in front of one of the many Christmas trees in the house are IWB Executive Board members. Front left to right are Peggy Garcia, Mila Martinez, and Yvonne Anderson, president. Rear left to right are Becky Strong, Minnie Lanham, secretary, Rosie Cardenas, treasurer, Miros Jensen, Norma Ornelas, Noelia Peña, Cathy Jenkins and Sylvia Cardenas. For more information on the tours, contact UTPA at 956/381-3361.
According to Josie Cappadona, a member of the IWB board and tour director for the estate, the house is decorated for Christmas with a theme this year of "Holidays in Bloom." The majority of the decorations each year are handmade by IWB volunteers.

"There will be more than 10 Christmas trees throughout the mansion that will be decorated with different flowers. Every Christmas the Shary family would put 100 red roses in front of the ballroom fireplace to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Board still honors that tradition each year," Cappadona said. The roses will be donated by Hewlett-White florists.

The Shary-Shivers estate was built in 1917 by John H. Shary, considered to be the father of the Texas citrus industry. He and his wife, Mary O'Brien Shary, had one adopted child, Marialice, who married Allan Shivers, who later became governor of Texas from 1949 to 1957. While governor, the Shary and Shivers families often gathered at the mansion, located on Shary Road north of Mission, for Christmas and other holidays.

Norma Woolsey, vice president of the IWB executive board and docent director for the mansion, said the state's business was often conducted there and many historic events occurred in its rooms. One of Woolsey's favorite areas is the ballroom, which measures 60 by 80 feet.

"There were so many things that happened in this ballroom. Eisenhower was entertained here when he came for the Falcon Dam dedication in 1953 and the Shary's daughter (Marialice) was married here to Allan Shivers, then a state senator, who would become governor," she said.

The Shivers were both early supporters of The University of Texas and the former Pan American College, and served both institutions as members of the Board of Regents. Children of the Shary-Shivers union chose to donate the home and an adjacent memorial chapel, where Mr. and Mrs. Shary are entombed, to the UTPA Foundation in 1997.

This year a pilot project regarding the mansion was initiated by IWB in conjunction with the Sharyland School District. The project, which targeted fourth-graders in the district, provided tours for the students in December. This project may expand to other districts in the future.

Funds raised by the IWB go to the upkeep of the mansion and student scholarships, particularly for students pursuing international studies. Membership in the IWB, which is governed by a 23-member board and has more than 100 members, is open to anyone but requires a membership fee of $25 per year.

For additional information on the tours, contact UTPA at 956/381-3361.