Historical Artifacts, Events & Locations

Custom House
The 1861 United States Customs House
By Donna Gable Hatch

Are you looking for a unique and luxurious living experience that also immerses you in local history? Look no further than the U.S. Customs House in downtown Galveston. This stunning building, constructed in 1861 with imported brick and structural wrought iron, offers a rare opportunity to own a piece of history while enjoying modern amenities.

Turner Hall
Turner Hall - German Immigrants' Lost Gift to Galveston
By Kathleen Maca

The Turnverein Movement was first brought to the United States in 1848 by a group of political refugees from Germany who were keen enthusiasts of gymnastics and physical exercise. The name turnverein refers to a type of athletic club. Texas Turnvereins were established in Galveston in 1851, and by 1858 its Turn Verein Lodge had erected a building at 2109-2011 Sealy named Turner Hall that became one of the first public halls in Galveston.


Central Park
Living History - Galveston City Company
By Kimber Fountain

I was curious if you knew anything about the Galveston City Stock company that was issued soon after Texas won its independence. My wife restores furniture and we found two Galveston City Stock certificates in an old desk she bought. I started doing some research and it’s an incredible story…

Cowboy Mafia
High on High Island - Story of the Cowboy Mafia
By Kimber Fountain

Along the eastern edge of Bolivar Peninsula, just past the point where Highway 87 ends and veers left into Highway 124 towards I-10, sits the unincorporated community of High Island--which is not really an island at all. This brief coastal expanse is attached to the mainland, but it is located atop a salt dome that gives it an elevation of 38 feet, the highest elevation on the Gulf Coast between Mobile, Alabama, and the Yucatan Peninsula. Primarily known today as a birdwatcher’s paradise, High Island experienced a brief run of infamy in the national news during the 1970s.

Central Park
Central Park
By Kimber Fountain

Amid the controversy this past August concerning a certain statue that stands in front of the 1966 Galveston County Courthouse on 21st Street, another historical discrepancy came to light albeit significantly less contentious. “I kept hearing everyone refer to the location as ‘courthouse square,’” says Mike Doherty, President of the Rosenberg Library. “And I would think, ‘No, that’s Central Park.’”

Into The Ashes - 1886 Darragh House
By Kathleen Maca

A map at the Rosenberg Library shows a large, two-story residence with another two-story house offset in the rear, and three small outbuildings on the north side of the property. There is no record of the condition of these buildings which may have sustained damage in the hurricanes of 1871 and 1875. The Darraghs moved to the property in 1884 or 1885 and undertook a major renovation two years later.

Great Fire
The Great Fire of 1885 - An Anniversary Branded Into Galveston's History
By Kimber Fountain

Witnesses reported that a howling north wind had blown the sparks from a furnace that had exploded in the Vulcan Foundry located between 16th and Strand streets, igniting an inferno unlike anything since the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. “The scene was sublime in its awfulness,” continued the same Daily News report, published the next day. “The combined efforts of every fire department in all of Texas would have been ineffective against this blaze.”

Galveston Baseball
Summertime Sensations - A Historic Look Into 150 Years of Galveston Baseball
By Kimber Fountain

Abner Doubleday’s arrival to Galveston in 1866 did, however, certainly lead to the first recorded game in the state and subsequently the first official baseball diamond drawn on Texas soil. On January 8, 1867, the Galveston Daily News announced and advocated for plans to establish a permanent baseball club in the city.

Electric Park
Electric Park - Bedazzling the Beachfront
By Kimber Fountain

Unbeknownst to many who today seek the shores of Galveston for respite and relaxation, Texas’ sunniest city was not recognized nor promoted as an entertainment destination until the first section of the seawall was built between 1902-1904.

Posterity Prayer
A Prayer for Posterity - How the 1900 Storm Inspired 120-year Family Tradition
By Kimber Fountain

This month marks a milestone—the 120th anniversary of The Great Storm of 1900. Which also means that 120 years-worth of history has been written about it, and almost all of it is about Galveston. But why would it not be?

Victims of Galveston
Victims of Galveston - Pompeo Coppini's Famous Missing Statue Inspired a Local Artist to Create His Own Interpretation of It For The Community
By Kathleen Maca

In October 1900 just a month after the Great Storm, newspaperman William Randolph Hearst organized a benefit for the Galveston orphans to be held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Artists and sculptors were invited to submit artwork to be auctioned during the benefit, and renowned sculptor Pompeo Luigi Coppini donated a small maquette of a design he titled the “Victims of the Galveston Flood.”

Buccaneer Hotel
The Buccaneer- The 440 Room, 11 Story Hotel Boasted Every Possible Amenity Available
By Katherine Adams

Children growing up on Galveston Island in the 1920s had heard of Jean Lafitte. They’d been enthralled by legends of the swashbuckling pirate, so when news came out of the construction at 22nd and Seawall of a new luxury hotel called the Buccaneer, many small children said they truly believed they would go to the fancy new hotel and meet a real pirate.

S S Galveston
The S.S. Galveston - The Sheer Absurdity of the Ship-Shaped Hotel was Absolutely Endearing
By Kimber Fountain

Galveston is one of those places that will try anything once. As evidenced by the continual evolution of entertainment on the seawall throughout the 20th century on up until today, anything that is trendy is welcome for as long as it is trendy.

Jack Tar Hotel
The Jack Tar
By Katherine Adams

People lined up outside the theaters to see the newest moving pictures featuring the shimmering Rita Hayworth, the amazing dance sequences of Gene Kelly, and the synchronized swimming “aquamusical” performances of Esther Williams. Like the rest of the country, Galvestonians dreamed of lounging luxuriously by a magnificent pool, basking in the sun, wearing nothing but the perfect bathing suit, a dark suntan, and a big smile.

Beach Hotel
The Beach Hotel
By Kimber Fountain

The beautiful, four-and-a-half story, wood-framed hotel was located between 23rd and 24th Streets just south of where the Seawall is today.

Pagoda Bath House
The Pagoda Bath House - One of the first and most impressive ever constructed on the Island, the bathhouse was located at the intersection of 23rd Street and the beach.
By Kimber Fountain

Despite a common assumption, Galveston was not always a destination for beachgoers. In fact, early measures taken to promote the booming commercial port city as such were met with staunch opposition from those who sought to maintain an elevated reputation as an island of commerce and industry. This was before the seawall was constructed, and long before the words “short term rental” became a regular part of the local dialect.

United States National Bank Building
Part Two - United States National Bank Building - A Reminder of Galveston's Forgotten Fortitude
By Kimber Fountain

Galveston is often heralded for its survivor spirit. Yet even this lofty (and well-deserved) label, given for the community’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable forces of nature, underplays the fact that time after time, this island city has done far more than merely survive. Even the mainstream narrative of island history often reaches its dramatic climax on September 8, 1900, lazily crediting The Great Storm with a consequent economic devastation that instantly transformed Broadway mansions into museums.

American LaFrance
American LaFrance
Galveston County Museum Acquires Antique Steam Fire ENgine

Galveston Island is rich with history — The Strand, the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, hundreds of examples of meticulously restored Victorian architecture — and one relic that has been all but lost to the sands of time. An authentic horse-drawn American LaFrance Metropolitan steam fire engine that served Galveston for almost a half century is the latest addition to the Galveston County Museum’s growing collection of artifacts.

Rosenberg Fountains
The Rosenberg Fountains - Water for Man and Beast 
By Kathleen Maca

In 1893 Swiss-born banker and philanthropist Henry Rosenberg presented Galvestonians with a way to quench their thirst for water and beauty at the same time. In his will, he bequeathed $30,000 - the equivalent of almost $860,000 today - for the “creation of not less than 10 drinking fountains for man and beast in various portions of the city of Galveston.”

Galveston: The Spirit of the Island

At the bleakest moment in Galveston’s history, when the stench of death was covered only by the smoke of funeral pyres, when a 20-foot-high, 8-mile-long debris wall - all that remained of the southern half of the island - loomed over downtown, at a time when the joy of reuniting with a loved one was cruelly tempered by the loss of a dozen others, news outlets around the country were quick to proclaim that “Galveston was finished.” No city could survive the magnitude of the destruction left behind by that September storm.

Galveston's Beneficial Giants - How Granite Shaped Galveston's Destiny

The humble granite block- it sits silently, faithfully serving this island city. For most people these blocks are little more than convenient platforms extending into the surf, places to enjoy the sights and sounds of crashing waves. They benefit fishermen on sunny mornings and the aquatic sea life living in their crevasses. They tend to blend into the scenery, and little thought is given to them.

Galveston Orphans Home
The Galveston Orphans' Home - From Shelter to Showcase

Galveston Island is now home to the beautiful new Bryan Museum at 1315 21st Street, but the walls of the museum building hold stories from a very different past. For over 100 years, the halls echoed with the voices of orphaned children who made their home in the grand building which is estimated to have housed nearly 6,000 over that century.

Great Storm
The Great Storm of 1900

Today, when we hear about a tragedy or major news event, we don’t need to go any further than our televisions, computers or phones to find endless details and videos of the occurrence. People in years past were no less inquisitive, but with motion pictures still in their infancy and limited newspaper photographs, their curiosity was often less than satisfied.

Ball High School
The ORIGINAL Ball High School

According to the Handbook of Texas, the cornerstone of what would become Ball High School - believed to be the oldest public school in Texas - was laid on Feb. 15,1884, at the southwest corner of the main portion of the building on Avenue H at 21st Street. The inscription on the cornerstone read: “George Ball to the Children of Galveston.”

Constructing the Seawall
Constructing The Seawall

According to the Handbook of Texas, the cornerstone of what would become Ball High School - believed to be the oldest public school in Texas - was laid on Feb. 15,1884, at the southwest corner of the main portion of the building on Avenue H at 21st Street. The inscription on the cornerstone read: “George Ball to the Children of Galveston.”

Jean Lafitte Hotel
The Jean Lafitte Hotel

In 1927, when the 10-story Jean Lafitte Hotel opened its doors at 2101 Church Street In Galveston, it was an astounding accomplishment. Designed by Scottish architect Andrew Fraser, the island’s first high-rise structure was called a “striking architectural beauty.”

St Mary's Orphanage
St. Mary's Orphanage
By ???

In the mid-19th century, Catholic Bishop Claude M. Dubuis charged the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word to care for the orphans of Galveston. From 1867 until 1968, the Sisters not only provided a safe haven for the children but also educated them.

St Mary's Orphanage
1879 Leon & H. Blum Building
By ???

In 1839, Tremont House, a posh two-story hotel -designed by the firm of McKinney & Williams (Thomas McKinney, Samuel May Williams) - opened at the corner of Postoffice and Tremont Streets.

Ursuline Academy
St. Ursula's By The Sea - Remembering Ursuline Academy
By ???

Organized and led by Saint Angela Merici, the Order of St. Ursula was canonically instituted by Pope Paul III (1534-1549) for the education of girls and the care of the ill and underprivileged.