hot on Galveston
Home tour opens treasure chest to history in Texas' favorite beach town
Texas coastal history’s doors are wide open in Galveston, as the island community hosts the 45th Annual Galveston Historic Homes Tour on May 4, 5, 11, and 12. Galveston lovers, architecture admirers, and preservation enthusiasts can visit eight homes highlighted in this year’s event.
Several of these picturesque homes date back to the days before Galveston's great 1900 storm, such as the August Roemer Tenant House, built in 1873, and are located on familiar streets, such as Broadway and Ball. Others boast designs by architectural names, such as Henry Collier Cooke, who created the Cameron House in 1891. The tour is open 10 am to 6 pm each day and features the following historic homes.
August Roemer Tenant House, built 1873
1416 Sealy Ave.
In 1873, August Roemer built this Gulf Coast cottage with triple dormers for use as a rental property. The center-hall house features a notable entry with double doors and transom, turned balusters, and square porch columns. Roemer sold the one-and-one-half-story house in 1879 to Julius and Elizabeth Ruhl.
James and Amelia Byrnes House, built c. 1881
2113 Ball St.
Paving and roofing contractor James Byrnes purchased this property in 1883, making improvements through 1895. Ironically, the Byrnes House was held up as an example of urban decay in 1969 during a city referendum on urban renewal. The home has been in rehabilitation house since 2013.
Conrad and Henrike Lenz House, built 1887
1807 Avenue L
The center-hall, side-gable home that features double dormers was a family residence for German-born Conrad Lenz, who came to Galveston with his wife, Henrike Pruessner. Lenz, a butcher, would later build a shop and smokehouse next door on the corner of 18th Street.
Allen and Lulu Cameron House, built 1891
1126 Church St.
The two-story Victorian home boasts features such as an asymmetrical façade with double wrap-around galleries separated by a patterned shingle skirt, a decorative balustrade, and a widow’s walk. It was designed by Englishman Henry Collier Cooke of the firm Bourgeois Nitchner & Cooke, who emigrated from England and Italy to Galveston in 1891. Cooke's masterpiece was designed for merchant Allen Cameron and his wife, Lulu Aschoff.
Lucas Terrace, built 1901-1908
1407 Broadway St.
Another Galveston structure with English roots, this complex was built by British immigrant Thomas Lucas, who erected it with salvaged bricks from his apartment building at 6th and Broadway, which was destroyed in the great 1900 storm. Lucas Terrace features two connected, gable-front, three-story buildings; a courtyard separates the main buildings from two detached two-story servant’s quarters on the south part of the property.
Peter and Augusta Nielson House, built 1915
1711 Rosenberg Avenue (25th St.)
A residence slightly touched by tragedy, this two-story brick house was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. The abode was built by Peter Nielson, a Danish-born merchant tailor, who died suddenly a year after construction. Nielson's widow, Augusta, maintained the residence until 1929, when she moved to Houston.
Iocopo Niccolai Tenant House, built 1922
2416 38th St.
In March 1938, Italian immigrant carpenter, Iacopo Niccolai, relocated this five-room bungalow, along with 11 others. Niccolai concentrated the 12 properties within the 2400 block of 38th Street, which he dubbed “Niccolai Subdivision.” The block was utilized as rentals until his death in 1947.
Peter and Anna Serini House, built 1903, rebuilt 1923
1810 Ave. N ½
Another example of post-1900-storm development, this vacant lot was purchased in 1902 by Alexander McLellan, a Canadian immigrant and foreman for Southwestern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company. McLellan relocated a house there, and in 1913, Peter and Anna Serini purchased the property. The Serinis rebuilt the home in 1923.
Several other events are slated around the home tour, including a breakfast the 1892 Bishop’s Palace on May 4, 5, and 11 at 8 am. Tickets are $85 and include breakfast in the historic home’s dining room and a tour of the house.
On May 3 and 10, for $150, guests can enjoy a multicourse chef’s dinner in one of the historic homes featured on the tour, along with a discussion about the home from its owners. Meanwhile, on May 12, celebrate mom with a jazz brunch at Menard Hall, the oldest residence on the island. Breakfast, door prizes, and more are included in the $70 ticket. All of these special events include the historic homes tour in the ticket price.