Once an important shipping point for steamboats along the Rio Grande. The site was first settled in 1760 and was named "Roma" in 1848 in honor of the Italian city. Because of its proximity to the river, Roma prospered during the years between the Mexican War and Reconstruction.
The Roma Historic District represents an outstanding example of the building techniques of the Lower Rio Grande. These techniques, derived from the 18th-century traditions of northern Mexico, are best exemplified by the finely detailed brick commercial and residential buildings designed and constructed by Heinrich Portscheller. Portscheller, a German immigrant, moved to Roma from Mexico in 1883.