Page 32 - March2017

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accomplished but often unknown artists, and to suggest
new uses for the 19
th
century buildings in the Historic Strand
District.” Over the course of a weekend in May, Strand and
Mechanic Streets were lined with exotic food vendors and
arts and crafts; a film festival and live dance and theatre
performances provided additional entertainment.
In 1970 Galveston, this was assuredly
a widespread mindset that had been
cultivated over the previous decade by
city officials, the Galveston Historical
Foundation, and the Galveston Junior
League, but the trio had yet to entirely
suppress a penchant for bulldozing
historic buildings for quick cash flow
purposes such as parking lots. Revitalizing
the Strand was a project that would
require cohesion, vision, and diligence.
An attorney from Washington, D.C.
named Peter Brink was chosen to lead
the collective efforts along the Strand.
He was already somewhat familiar with
Galveston; the city’s remarkable potential
for restoration had been recognized in the
nation’s capital for quite some time.
Brink was made interim director of the
Galveston Historical Foundation, and
went quickly about reorganizing the group
to better suit the scope of the Strand concept. Lacking wholly in
restoration experience, Brink compensated with both the legal
background required to create a revolving fund that would be
necessary to prompt investment in the historic architecture, as
well as a forward-thinking and ultimately prophetic vision for the
future of the street.
Heretofore, preservation in the city had mainly focused on
house museums, but Brink was adamant that this venture be
recognized as one that would actually
use
the buildings. “[The
goal is] to save historic buildings and to adapt them to current
needs,” he said on behalf of the GHF to the
Houston Post
in 1973.
“[We will] recycle our historic buildings to bring them fully
into the mainstream of Galveston-Houston life… I can see
townhouses and apartments as well as shops and restaurants
and bookstores on the street.”
But even before one building was sold, a burgeoning local
art scene was working to perpetuate the Strand as a center
of cultural celebration. Festival on the Strand was started in
1972 and continued throughout the decade. The idea was
conceived by the Galveston County Cultural Arts Council, who
aimed “to bring great visibility to hundreds of the region’s most
Corner of 22nd and Strand looking west, c. 1974
22nd and Strand looking east, c. 1974
Mallory Produce Building, home of Old Strand Emporium, c. 1974
Inside Old Strand Emporium, c. 1975
Old Strand Emporium images courtesy of Rosenberg Library
Past & PresenT |
the strand chronicles
32 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
MARCH 2017