PRESERVING GALVESTON’S HISTORY
A Unique Collection of Late 19th and Early 20th Century Houses
By Barbara Canetti • Photos by Illumine Photographic Services
The 44th Annual Galveston Historic Homes Tour has more than just houses to view. In fact, the Galveston Historic Foundation has two weekends planned, packed with events and parties open to the public.
On tour are eight privately owned homes with a variety of architectural styles and décor. The home tour is scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays, May 5, 6, 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“This year we highlight several houses featured on prior tours as a ‘Rehabilitation in Progress’ house. The before and after projects show great personal style, but still respect the history and architecture that make our island’s properties so unique,” said Dwayne Jones, the foundation’s executive director.
THE 44th ANNUAL GALVESTON HISTORIC HOMES TOUR:
1896 William and Adele Skinner House
This picturesque Queen Anne house was designed by architect Charles W. Bulger for Adele and William Cooke Skinner. Bulger’s design for the banker and his wife features a multi-gabled roofline, wraparound galleries and finely crafted details. The house became a Recorded Texas Landmark in 2017.
1883 Adolph and Regina Frenkel House
2424 Avenue L
This Victorian house is one of three identical triplets built in 1883 by the Galveston Real Estate and Loan Association as investment properties. The original owner, Bavarian immigrant Adolph Frenkel, added two rooms to the rear of the property after his marriage to Regina. Frenkel had electric lighting installed, a luxury that only recently had become available in Galveston.
1887 John Burnett Tenant House
2123 Avenue K
John Burnett, president of Gulf City Street Railway & Real Estate Company, built four identical two-story houses south of Broadway in the San Jacinto neighborhood. The house at 2123 Avenue K had been a boarding house in this working-class district before being divided into a duplex in the 1940s. The Galveston Historic Foundation purchased the building in 2014, renovating it back into a single residence before selling it to its current owners, who completed the restoration.
1893 Thomas and Lillie League House
3528 Avenue P
Thomas Jefferson League Jr. and his wife Lillie built their home on his grandfather’s land. The property had once been owned by his grandfather Samuel May Williams, the son of a ship captain who became a prominent figure in early Texas history. The elegant two-story house features original woodwork and a large porch that spans the width of the house. The original porch columns and balusters were replaced with Craftsman-like elements in the early 20th century.
1895 James and Maggie Lowber House
3018 Avenue O ½
Kentuckians Maggie and James Lowber built this raised two-story Victorian with Queen Anne features in 1895. He was pastor for Central Christian Church and when the family relocated to Austin, the house was used as a tenant property until 1904. It sustained substantial damage in the Storm of 1900 but was repaired in 1901.
1913 John and Artie Gilbert House
3608 Avenue O
Constructed by John T. Gilbert, an engineer for the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad, this Victorian home shows how residential design began to transition in Galveston to the revival periods of the early 20th century. The city designated the property a City Landmark in 2017 and its rehabilitation was featured on HGTV’s Saving Galveston.
1928 Paul and Veska Chushcoff Tenant House
The Chushcoffs, Yugoslavian immigrants, built this gable-front house for use as a tenant property. In 2005 new owners raised the building and rehabilitated it to accommodate additional living space on the ground floor. The style is typical of tenant houses built in the city during that time.
1874 Smith-Hartley House
1121 33rd Street
Architect Thomas J. Overmire designed this Italianate stunner for early land speculator J. Mayrant Smith, who sold it to Susan Hartley, widow of early Texas legislator Oliver Cromwell Hartley. She was the sister of Rebecca Sealy, who was the wife of Galveston mover and shaker John Sealy. This house was featured on the 2014 tour as its “Preservation in Progress” house. Read more about this house on page 48.
Tickets for the homes tour are $30 for non-members before May 1; $35 after May 1. Tickets are available at www.galvestonhistory.org.
In addition to the homes tour, the Galveston Historical Foundation has planned several special events; reservations are recommended:
May 5, 6 and 12 at 8 a.m.
1892 Bishop’s Palace, 1402 Broadway, Galveston
Breakfast and audio tour of the historic home, plus a Homes Tour ticket.
$85 per person
History on Tap Dinner
May 4 and 11 at 7 p.m.
1883 Adolph and Regina Frenkel House, 2424 Avenue L, Galveston;
1893 Thomas and Lillie League House, 3528 Bernardo de Galvez Avenue, Galveston
A specially created dinner, prepared by an award-winning chef and served in a Homes Tour house. Chef Mary Bass (Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen) is cooking at the 1883 Frenkel House on May 4 and Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s Ryan Savoie is bringing his skills to the 1893 League House on May 11. Personal tour of that house plus ticket to the Homes Tour.
$150 per person
Cinco at the Depot
May 5 at 5 p.m.
Galveston, Houston & Henderson Freight Depot, 3304 Market Street, Galveston
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo and tour the GH&H Freight Depot while enjoying live music, tacos, margaritas, beer and wine. Learn about the Galveston Flood exhibit and the plans for this historic railroad and industrial site. This fiesta is rather rustic but fun.
$45 per person
Rehabilitation in Progress Backyard Party
May 12 at 5 p.m.
GHF Revolving Fund Houses, 1719 Mechanic Street, Galveston
See what preservation looks like firsthand. Enjoy close up views and tours of three of Galveston Historic Foundation’s revolving fund projects. This backyard party includes live music, food and drinks.
$45 per person
Mother’s Day Menard Brunch and Tour
May 13 at 9 a.m.
Menard Hall, 3302 Avenue O, Galveston
Celebrate Mom with a special brunch and then tour Galveston’s oldest residence, the 1838 Menard House. This special event includes door prizes, a hearty meal, flowers and a ticket for the Homes Tour.
$70 per person
Tickets are available at www.galvestonhistory.org