Page 36 - June2017

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The 1877 map reveals that the block was already
entirely developed and represented a typical downtown
area of a major city, which Galveston was at the time
thanks to its prolific port of commerce located two
blocks away. The majority of the structures were wooden
buildings that served numerous commercial and retail
purposes.
An alleyway ran east to west through the center of the
block and to its north, along the south side of Mechanic
Street, was a tailor, a locksmith, and a shoe store. On the
opposite side along Market Street were a watchmaker
and repair shop, a cigar store, and a newsstand. Lined
along the 22
nd
and 23
rd
Street sides were more of the
same, with two more tailors, another cigar stand, a
barber, a paint shop, and a railroad ticket office.
The block did also contain a small number of brick
structures by 1877, including two on each corner of
Mechanic Street. On the west corner was the original
Greenleve block, built by a soon to be prominent
businessman who would eventually be responsible for
one of the architectural Victorian masterpieces along the
Strand that still stands today between 23
rd
and 24
th
Streets.
Facing 23
rd
Street, a large brick furniture store sat on the
south side of the alleyway, and on the Market Street side
was an equally large, three-story brick structure noted
on the map as “billiards” and “gaming.” Interestingly, this
would be the same building that would eventually house
the Maceo’s infamous Turf Grill fifty years later, but not
before the location would become first a variety theatre
in 1899 and a trunk factory in 1912.
By the early 1880s, almost the entire block along Market
Street boasted brick buildings, each of which were long
but narrow, with three floors, and built directly alongside
each other, reminiscent of several of the smaller
buildings that still remain along the Strand. By 1889, the
wooden structures along the Mechanic Street side had
Left: Market Street looking east from 23rd Street, c. 1908. Right: Texas Bank & Trust Co. at 2202 Market and
Baxter & Wilson Hatters at 2206 Market, c. 1910.
1877 Sanborn Map, yellow indicates wooden buildngs
also been replaced with ornate brick buildings, and this was the
same year where the street numbers used today were first seen
on the Sanborn Maps.
But the block’s most notable structure during this time was a
wood-framed building that remained such for the entirety of its
existence. Located in the center of the north half of the block
facing Mechanic Street, the Commercial Hotel dated all the way
back to before the Civil War and was referred to as the “bon ton
hostelry” of the island by the
Galveston Daily News
.
It was a landmark of the early days of the city and was one of
the most patronized and distinguished hotels in the entire state.
36 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
JUNE 2017