Shary's Legacy in the Valley
SHARY MANSION – SHARY SHIVERS ESTATE
Two years after first coming to the Valley, John H. Shary began construction in 1914 on his immense home. The construction held great importance to him at the time, in order to prove his commitment to the region for all those that visited the Valley. It also demonstrated his plan for spending the rest of his life here.
The home reached completion in 1917 and consists of seven bedrooms, a ballroom, and a bowling alley, totaling 17,000 square feet. Early on, the home doubled as a club-house for those prospective buyers of Shary lands brought down to the Valley from Midwestern and Northern states.
One of the most notable guests that stayed at the Shary Mansion was President Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Eisenhower visited as the guest of Marialice and Texas Governor Allan Shivers for three days during his time in the Valley for the Falcon Dam dedication in October 1953.
The Shary Shivers family donated the estate to The University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) Foundation (a legacy institution of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) in 1997. The property found use for meetings, social functions, and fundraising events for 15 years, but it ultimately became too expensive to maintain with the cost of about $120,000 a year. UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen stated, “The University, the Foundation, and the International Women’s Board have enjoyed being connected to this important piece of the Valley’s history…we agreed that it was in the best interest of all parties involved for the Foundation to sell the property.”
The century-old estate was sold to Obed Flores, a businessman from Veracruz, Mexico in March of 2012. Flores plans to maintain its historical integrity and turn it into an event center and museum. Proceeds from the sale, which totaled close to $1 million, were “used to establish a scholarship endowment at UTPA in the name of the Shary Shivers Foundation, set up by Shary’s grandchildren.”
Constructing the Shary Building had been a dream of John H. Shary for close to 15 years. Groundbreaking took place on January 18, 1939, with the plan that it would be completed within 90 days, at an estimated cost of $40,000. Open house for the Shary Building was held on June 23, 1939.
Harvey P. Smith, a San Antonio architect, designed the Spanish style, two-story building that once reigned as the center of land sales, irrigation work, citrus industry, and numerous other commercial firms.
The Shary Building was purchased by the City of Mission in 1960 from Marialice Shary Shivers and Allan Shivers. Today, the building is home to the Mission Historical Museum.
SHARYLAND INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Sharyland Independent School District was founded in 1921 out of the need to provide educational accommodations near the rapidly growing community of Sharyland.
The first three schools in Sharyland started as part of the McAllen School District. The first called North School was constructed as a one-room school by local resident circa 1914, located on land belonging to John H. Shary at 5 Mile Line and Shary Road.
Beginning in 1918, John H. Shary and residents of Sharyland petitioned the McAllen School District, reasoning that a larger, central school would be necessary in addition to a high school. Plans for additional schools fell through and by 1921 residents requested for Sharyland to be separated into a new district.
The Sharyland Independent School District came into existence on March 10, 1921, created by the 37th Legislature of Texas. John H. Shary was elected President of the School Board, a position he would hold until 1939.
In 1922, the district moved forward with plans to build a new larger school that could accommodate its growing community. John H. Shary donated the land on the northeast corner of Highway 83 and Shary Road for a building that would be the first of its kind in Texas. Completed in 1924 with the approximate cost of $50,000, was an open-air, one-story building equipped with a loud speaker system in every class so that announcements could be made to students.
Today, the 94-year-old building serves as the Central Office of the Sharyland Independent School District.
SHARY MEMORIAL CHAPEL
The Shary Memorial Chapel is located in the grove of ebony trees across the road and east of the Shary Mansion. The chapel, which also serves as a mausoleum, was completed and dedicated by Bishop M. S. Garriga of Corpus Christi in 1950.
The chapel was designed by Cajetan J. B. Bauman of New York City, New York and built using native stone from Comfort, Texas.
One of John H. Shary’s last wishes was to be buried on his land, which wife Mary Shary honored by having the chapel built for him. Inside the chapel are two green marble above-ground vaults. John H. Shary was laid to rest on the west vault and Mary was laid to rest on the east vault.