The annual Galveston Historic Homes Tour always offers a glimpse of private homes and much of the city’s and state history. But they also show how people lived generations ago and how history lovers combine the appreciation for centuries-old architecture with modern life.
The nine homes on the Galveston Historical Foundation’s 2018 tour range from income property for renters to grand homes for some of the city’s richest and most influential residents. The tour runs on two weekends from May 5th to 6th and May 12th to 13th from 10am to 6pm. Tickets are $ 30 before May 4th. Buy them at www.galvestonhistory.org.
Here is the lineup:
1893 Thomas and Lillie League House, 3528 Avenue P: This house was built on land that once belonged to Samuel May Williams, a major figure in early Texas history. He was the grandfather of the Lillie League and an early settler of the Austin Colony. He helped found the Texas Navy and was secretary to Stephen F. Austin. After Texas gained independence, he moved to Galveston, where he was a well-known businessman. The sleek two-story home features original woodwork and a full-width porch. The originally twisted porch columns and balusters were replaced by handcrafted elements in the early 20th century.
MORE: Zach Carson and Elliott Stuart turned League House into an exhibition space.
1896 William and Adele Skinner House, 1318 Sealy: The architect Charles W. Bulger designed this exquisite Queen Anne house for the banker William Cooke Skinner and his wife Adele. Bulger came to Galveston from Indiana in 1891 and practiced architecture for a few years before moving to Dallas in 1905. The home features a multi-pediment roofline, wraparound galleries, and finely crafted details, and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark (2017).
1874 Smith-Hartley House, 1121 33rd St.: The architect Thomas J. Overmire designed this Italian house for the early land speculator J. Mayrant Smith. Smith lived there briefly before selling the house to Susan Hartley, widow of early Texan lawmaker Oliver Cromwell Hartley, in 1880.
When: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 5-6. May and 12.-13. May
Houses: 1318 Sealy; 1121 33rd St .; 2424 Avenue L; 2123 Avenue K; 3528 Avenue P; 3608 Avenue O; 3018 Avenue O½; 1723 mechanic; 1503 church
Park: on the street near each house; No shuttle service offered
Tickets: $ 30 in advance; $ 35 May 4th and after
1883 Adolph and Regina Frenkel house, 2424 Avenue L: Bavarian immigrant Adolph Frenkel bought this Victorian house in 1884. A year later he married Regina Marx and the couple added two rooms to the back of the property and installed electric lighting that had recently become available in Galveston.
PIRATE’S COVE: Exhale when you reach the dam and say hello to your weekend spot.
1887 John Burnett Tenant House, 2123 Avenue K: In 1887, John Burnett, president of the Gulf City Street Railway & Real Estate Company, built four identical two-story houses south of Broadway in the working-class neighborhood of San Jacinto. After the turn of the 19th century this was used as a guest house and in the 1940s it was divided into a maisonette. The Galveston Historical Foundation bought the property in 2014 and returned it to a single family home. After stabilizing the property, GHF sold it to the current owners who had completed a thorough renovation of the home.
1913 John and Artie Gilbert House, 3608 Avenue O: This Victorian house, built for an engineer on the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad, shows how Galveston home design transitioned into the revival periods of the early 20th century. The city of Galveston named the property a city landmark in 2017. The redevelopment of the house was featured in HGTV’s “Saving Galveston”.
1895 James and Maggie Lowber House, 3018 Avenue O½: The Lowbers were Kentucky natives who built this two-story Victorian skyscraper with Queen Anne features. Lowbar came to Galveston to pastor the Central Christian Church, founded in 1877. After moving to Austin, the Lowbers rented the house until 1904. The original insurance balance sheet for the house says it was “destroyed” by the 1900 storm and repaired in 1901.
1905 Benjamin Dolson Tenant House, 1723 mechanic: Benjamin Dolson, partner in a maritime business, built this two-story townhouse in the south with a double gallery in 1905. Relocated in 2017 by the Galveston Historical Foundation to keep it from demolition, it includes a new pillar-beam foundation and replacement roof, repair and restoration of key architectural and structural elements, and new mechanical systems.
1928 Tenant house Paul and Veska Chushcoff, church 1503: This high-rise building with a gable front was built by Chushcoff’s Yugoslovak immigrants as a tenant property. In 2005, new owners renovated and raised the building and added living space on the ground floor.