Page 40 - Apr2017

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The upper floors above the museum were
renovated into office spaces, and the
building was named Shearn Moody Plaza
in honor of Mary’s brother.
Opposite the Plaza, Hendley Row
bookended the other end of the Strand
on the northwest corner of 20th Street.
GHF restored the west section of the
oldest building on the street and there
housed the organization’s headquarters as
well as a Visitors Center. The restoration
was designed and executed by the Taft
Architects of Houston, and in 1981 the
firm received a National Honors Award
for their work on Hendley Row from the
American Institute of Architects.
As the decade continued, it proved itself
more than capable of maintaining this
feverish pace of growth and renewal.
Peter Brink likened it to a “snowball
picking up a little snow and getting bigger
in momentum.”
In 1983, George Mitchell struck again
with a stunning renovation of the
Hutchings and Sealy Building at 24th and
Strand. He was now the city’s largest
taxable landowner on the island, with
real estate holdings totaling $54 million,
or nearly six percent of the total taxable
assessed valuation in Galveston. With
the capital, the drive, and the vision,
rehabilitation of the 1871 Thomas
Jefferson League building on the
southwest corner of 23rd Street. It
debuted in 1980, and on the street level
he and his wife Cynthia opened the
Wentletrap restaurant that singlehandedly
elevated Strand dining and brought an air
of sophistication to the city street.
During the Strand’s commercial heyday,
efficient access to the railyard from the
port was crucial, thus the street was
plotted to dead-end to the east at 25th
Street. The location of the railyard just
beyond this point allowed easy transport
from ship to rail via tracks built along the
harbor front. Eventually, a train depot was
constructed at the foot of the Strand with
the advent of rail service for passengers.
A massive 1930s renovation turned the
modest station into a splendid Art Deco
masterpiece with a center tower that rose
eleven stories.
The decline of Galveston as a destination and the rise of automobiles as primary
transportation permanently closed the depot in 1967, and the building was left to ruin
while the rest of the Strand enjoyed over a decade of resurgence. Finally in 1981, Mary
Moody Northen suggested that the Moody Foundation privately fund the renovation of
the building and develop a railroad museum.
In addition to restoring the exterior to its 1930s splendor, the $10 million project
transformed the first level into a public museum that preserved the original train
depot. The original newsstand, ticket counter, and wooden benches were employed to
re-create a 1932 tableau complete with life-sized statues of travelers in period clothing.
Trolly in front of Visitors Center, c. 1989
George and Cynthia Mitchell inside Wentletrap
Images courtesy of Rosenberg Library
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GALVESTON MONTHLY |
ARPIL 2017