Founded in 1765, Roma was part of Jos de Escandn's Colony, formed around a mission established 16 years earlier. Situated on the banks of the Rio Grande, Roma was an important riverboat shipping point until the coming of the railroads and highways. (The Rio Grande is no longer navigable.) Homes, stores and the ancient mission resemble a town lifted bodily from the interior of Mexico. The producers of the film "Viva Zapata" chose Roma for their outdoor scenes.
The Roma National Historic Landmark District encompasses most of the original townsite and highlights 38 identified historical structures and features that date between 1848 and 1928. The Conservation Fund, representing The Meadows Foundation, was joined by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to form the Roma Restoration Project to restore historical buildings and to accomplish as much of the work as possible with local craftspeople. Although not open to the public, the buildings and restoration work can be viewed from the city's plaza.