THE HANS AND MARGUERITE GULDMANN HOUSE
Mission and Craftsman Elements Combine Seamlessly in this Popular Tour Home
By Barbara Canetti • Photography courtesy of Illumine Photographic Services
A hundred years ago, when the Hans Guldmann family built their spacious family home at 1715 35th St., Mrs. Marguerite Guldmann complained she couldn’t get groceries delivered because her house was out in the country on Galveston Island with no roads leading to it.
The large house, which the family occupied for 60 years, is featured once again on the 43rd Galveston Historical Foundation’s annual home tour — for the third time. The Craftsman- and Mission-style home is a favorite because of its lovely and bright interiors, its historical significance and the fact that it sits on 1.3 acres of land. The expanse of the homestead is unique in Galveston, where houses were purposely built close to each other for wind protection and lot size is usually quite small.
The present owners, Mikey and Allen Isbell, purchased the 5,500-square-foot house in 1983. “It was an overgrown mess,” says Mikey. “Yaupons and cherry laurels everywhere. You could hardly see out the windows.”
The property was cleared decades ago and now boasts of lovely vistas from every angle. None of the windows are draped or covered, allowing natural light to flow into every room.
As visitors approach the red brick house and its green tiled roof, the large two-story, wrap-around porches immediately invite lazy day opportunities. Open the glass-fronted door and once inside, the dark wood floors, the high ceilings and the immense staircase — divided at the top — greet guests. The Isbells have photos from the Guldmanns’ days and ironically, much of the furniture placement today resembles the original owners’ choices.
“We haven’t changed much, except the kitchen and bathrooms. Otherwise, the house is still the same as it was back then,” Mikey says.
The foyer is grand and spacious, with a homemade desk nestled in the corner, handcrafted by one of Allen’s ancestors in the early 1900s five generations ago. Turning to the left through one set (of three) pocket doors is the spacious living room and the dining room, which is the largest room in the house.
“It was designed so big because the owners entertained frequently,” she says. The dining room is decorated today with Mikey’s grandmother’s oak dining room table and buffet from Alba, both preserved perfectly.
A yellow butler’s pantry with storage for holiday dishes and stemware and an eclectic collection of birdhouses leads into the all-white kitchen, which was recently updated again. But the original white hexagon tiled floor remains, a reminder of the house’s original spirit.
A glassed-in porch — one of three in the house — serves as a small office for Mikey; Allen’s book-lined study is nearby. And in the study is one of many fireplaces, designed and decorated with pastel-colored tile but totally not the style of the house.
“I think the fireplaces are cool and they have a real modern look to them, but they are original,” she says.
Upstairs are five bedrooms, including one room that served as the schoolroom where the Guldmann children were educated by a nanny who lived in the nearby room. The other guest rooms are decorated in period furnishings and one leads out onto the large sleeping porch along the south side of the house, catching the Gulf breezes all day. The master bedroom, also attached to the porch, has a large en suite bathroom and walk-in closets.
There is also an attic, not open to the public, as well as a cemented basement, which is used for storage and laundry. But tucked in the corner of the basement is a large — but empty — wine cellar.
“There were bottles from a long time ago,” Mikey says. “But I don’t think I would drink any wine that has been stored down here.”
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