We already were excited about the return of clear blue water to Galveston Island, though everybody knows it won't last long. Just as much of an attraction, and certainly more dependable, is the upcoming Galveston Historic Homes Tour.
It's the 45th go-round for this annual backstage pass to privately-owned homes, presented by the Galveston Historical Foundation. Half of the eight properties on this year's tour were still standing after the Great Storm of 1900, though that's not to say they were unscathed.
For the circa 1881 property at 2113 Ball, the real danger was in neglect and the ravages of time. During a 1969 city referendum on urban renewal, this property had so declined that it served as an example of urban decay. The home was purchased by new owners in 2013 and it's the "Rehabilitation in Progress" entry for this year's home tour. Architectural details inside include coved ceilings, a compass rose ceiling medallion for the chandelier, and period molding around the doors.
The oldest house on this year's tour dates back to 1873. It's a one-and-a-half-story Gulf Coast cottage with triple dormers, a center hall and square porch columns located at 1416 Sealy. Inside discover a light and bright kitchen that balances the old with the new: farmhouse sink, furniture quality center island, reclaimed hardwood floors and a pair of geometric chandeliers.
Believe it or not this one-and-a-half-story home from 1887 was originally owned by a butcher who emigrated from Germany; he operated a shop and smokehouse at the property next door. The current homeowners have chosen a soft pastel color palette, with a cool beachy vibe, while also preserving architectural details such as wainscoting and hexagonal bathroom floor tile. They're big supporters of the island's arts scene, so you'll also find local treasures along the home's center hall.
This Victorian house was built in 1891 and was designed by English born architect Henry Collier Cooke of the firm Bourgeois Nitchner & Cooke. It is distinctive for its asymmetrical façade with double wrap-around galleries separated by a patterned shingle skirt, a decorative balustrade and a widow’s walk. The beautifully preserved interior still sports Victorian gingerbread, as well as custom millwork around the doors, windows and fireplace.
The origins of this house get a little bit murky. Historians know that an old house was moved to a vacant lot in 1903. Ten years later the new owners rebuilt the house but kept parts of the old. There's nothing ancient about the interior, however, though architectural details remain: an open transom rests over the wide passageway between the living and dining rooms.
Not all properties were designed as personal residences. This five room bungalow dates back to 1922 and was originally located on 15th Street. An Italian immigrant carpenter moved the home, along with 11 others, to create a block of rental properties on 38th Street. The Niccolai Subdivision generated income for the entrepreneur until his death in 1947.
The Arts and Crafts movement definitely influenced construction of this two-story brick house at 1711 Rosenberg Avenue. The current homeowners have played to the strengths of the home's design, layering in antique furnishings and Tiffany lighting, while also preserving the extensive millwork throughout the home.
Shown at the top of this page, Lucas Terrace is more of a complex than a single home. After the Great Storm of 1900, a brick mason and English immigrant salvaged bricks from a destroyed apartment building. It took him seven years to finish building the complex, which contains two gable-front three-story buildings, a courtyard, and a detached servant's quarters on the south end.
The Galveston Historic Homes Tour is scheduled for May 4-5 and May 11-12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Galveston. For information, call 409-765-3405 or visit galvstonhistory.org. $25 to $35.
May 3, 7 p.m. History on Tap Dinner, the circa 1881 Byrnes House, 2113 Ball, Galveston, $150
May 10, 7 p.m., History on Tap Dinner, 1903 Serini House, 1810 Avenue N ½, Galveston, $150
May 4, 5 and 11, 8 a.m., Bishop's Breakfasts, Bishop's Palace (Gresham House), 1402 Broadway, Galveston, $85
May 5, 2 p.m., Post-Modernist Architecture Presentation, 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, Texas Seaport Museum, 2200 Harborside Drive, Galveston, $35 to $40
May 11, 5 p.m. Cajun Music and Crawfish, H & H Railroad Depot, The Depot on Market, 3304 Market, Galveston, $40 to $45
May 12, 9 a.m., Mother's Day Jazz Breakfast, Menard House Complex, 3302 Avenue O, Galveston, $70
Plein Air Southwest
This year’s Galveston Historic Homes Tour will partner with Outdoor Painters Society’s Plein Air Southwest for their annual member’s competition, show, and sale featuring 44 juried artists. These artists will record history across the island in the form of paintings created during the tour. A public sale of the art will be open on Saturday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the 1859 Ashton Villa, 2328 Broadway. Proceeds from the sale of artwork benefit Galveston Historical Foundation.
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