Page 37 - June2017

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The financial institution, originally called Island City Savings
Bank, was started by his father in 1874. In 1902, the name
was changed and a magnificent building was erected on the
northwest corner of Market and 22
Street, known not only for
its intricate stone detail but also a placard in the second floor
corner window that prominently displayed the family name.
In 1923, the bank changed names again to the United States
National Bank, the building was abandoned, and in celebration
a new, eleven-story tower was built directly across the street,
known today as the USNB building that still stands tall on the
southwest corner of 22
and Market.
Left: Pedestrians and carriages on Market Street, c. 1911. Right: 2200 block of Market Street looking west c.
1920. The Texas Bank & Trust Co. building at 2202 Market is on right in both images.
1912 Sanborn Map, red indicates brick buildings
It played host to the most fashionable visitors of Texas
high society, with a guest ledger that witnessed the
signatures of the state’s most prominent politicians and
Although a modest structure in comparison to those
built during Galveston’s architectural Renaissance during
the late 19
century, its lofty reputation was perpetuated
in large part by the dining room. The Commercial’s
last owner, before the structure was condemned and
demolished in 1913, was a popular figure of the time
known as “Daddy” Walsh. He would ship delicacies from
New York to the kitchen, and his dining tables were
resplendent with the finest fare available at the time such
as fruit preserves and fresh eggs and butter.
The Commercial Hotel was also responsible for a
significant reconfiguring of the block when a fire broke
out at the back of the hotel (along the alley) in 1902.
The fire was discovered at 2:45am on the morning of
March 27, and by 4am it had completely destroyed every
building on the block, except for the front half of the
hotel itself. Guests of the Commercial narrowly escaped.
The proprietor of the hotel at the time was a man named
B.F. Gaines, and after making his way out of the flames
he decided to go back in, presumably for valuables or
important paperwork. He perished inside the hotel,
and his charred remains were found after the fire was
Nearly all that was left on the block after the fire were
the imaginary property lines, and although new structures
were built accordingly, the hotel was the only business that
remained from before the incident. But the destruction
also brought with it the block’s most beautiful and ornate
structure to date, the Texas Bank & Trust Company owned
by Isaac “Ike” Kempner, a formidable figure of Galveston’s
history who was almost solely responsible for reorganizing
the city government after the 1900 Storm.
Past & Present |
Galveston Lost
JUNE 2017 |