About Ancora, past and present.
Kemah is the Karankawa Indian word for “wind in the face.” In the early 1900’s it was a breezy coastal village where many residents made a living in the fishing and boating industries. In the 1920’s the Goulrich family acquired a parcel of land where their heirs married Abraham Kipp and James Bradford, henceforth, the two main streets of Kemah, Kipp and Bradford.
Early on a couple of Italians notice the community and expanded their sale of liquor and gambling to Kemah. One armed bandits and neon lights ran from Skid Row, known today as The Boardwalk, to 8th street. Up and down Kipp and Bradford. In the evening, the town was fairly deserted but around 9:00 p.m., all the neon lights came on and the parking lots at the gambling places filled up. The town was open until people got tired sometimes until dawn.
Hurricane Carla of 1961 blew in with a vengeance. Up until then, the worst Hurricane in history. Carla destroyed the community of Kemah. Slowly it began to recover and in 1990 an Italian Piano player opened Claudio’s, right here where you are sitting today. Claudio Sereni is still playing in the area. A few years later, the restaurant changed names and Matt Kajehali became the owner and manager of this iconic restaurant and piano bar.
I, Rilene Purvis-Burgess, watched the building sit vacant until July 2019 and with the help of some of the best friends I could ever imagine and a family that loves the “wind in their face”, we are very proud to offer you some of the experience, the past and present. You are the future!