Murdoch's Bathhouses

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The original Murdoch’s Bathhouse opened in Galveston during the late 19th century. Situated directly on the beach near 23rd Street, Murdoch’s offered bathing suit rentals, changing rooms, and shower facilities. The beach-side bathhouse was completely destroyed by the 1900 Storm before the Seawall was constructed. 

 By February 1901, proprietor George Murdoch had rebuilt the bathhouse at the same site on the beach. Unfortunately, just eight years later another powerful hurricane struck the upper Texas Gulf Coast, and the bathhouse was again destroyed.

 Placeholder imageIn 1911, a new and improved Murdoch’s opened at a cost of $35,000, which is over $1.1 million in today’s dollars. This time, the bathhouse was built on 160 10” by 10” wood pilings and was designed to withstand hurricanes. 

 The bathhouse featured 542 rooms with separate changing areas for men and women. A promenade deck on top of the building offered views of the Gulf of Mexico and could accommodate up to 2,000 guests for special events. It also featured a life-saving station for emergencies. 

 This more substantial facility allowed for independent businesses to operate within Murdoch’s. One such enterprise was a souvenir and gift shop managed by William Guyette, whose descendants became the owners of Murdoch’s bathhouse for several generations. The first Gaido’s restaurant was also located inside Murdoch’s. 

 Unfortunately, the improved construction was not a match for the devastating hurricane that hit Galveston just four years later in 1915. However, Murdoch’s was once again rebuilt in 1916, this time with its floor raised ten feet above the seawall. The facility was expanded to accommodate 1,000 bathers.

 Over the years, Murdoch’s evolved to meet the changing needs of its customers. When bathing suit rentals and changing rooms were no longer in demand, Murdoch’s began selling refreshments, beach supplies, and tourist souvenirs. 

 The 1916 Murdoch’s bathhouse continued to stand strong until Hurricane Carla destroyed it in 1961. As with the previous storms, it was reconstructed.

 Most recently, Murdoch’s was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. The Galveston landmark was rebuilt and reopened its doors to visitors once again in 2010. 

 The iconic structure is a symbol of Galveston’s resilience and willingness to weather storms for well over a century. It remains a popular destination for island visitors.