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Bishops Palace
Bishop's Palace pre-Ike

Galveston Historical Foundation Seeks Financial Help After Hurricane Ike

By Lucas Everidge

Uprooted from their home area, devastated by Hurricane Ike, the Galveston Historical Foundation sent an emergency call for help from their temporary new headquarters in Austin, Texas.

The Galveston Historical Foundation is one of the largest local preservation organizations in the country, stewarding thirteen historic properties in Galveston and employing more than 70 full and part-time staff members.

Executive Director Dwayne Jones announced that financial assistance to Galveston Historical Foundation can be made online at www.galvestonhistory.org through membership in the foundation or through direct donation. Donations made online will be put to work immediately as GHF staff and volunteers begin working to assess and repair Galveston's incomparable historic fabric -- from its modest working-class bungalow and shotgun house neighborhoods to the grand East End and the Strand downtown district.

Staff members Clay Wade, director of events; Eve Monteith, events coordinator, and David Darden, facilities manager, who remained in Galveston during Hurricane Ike reported their findings about the condition of the foundation's properties to the staff and board via conference call.

First reports from the scene indicate the following:

The 1861 U. S. Custom House, the foundation's headquarters, was flooded by as much as 8 feet of water, causing damage to files, archives, equipment, systems and inventory. Structural damage seems to be limited to an upstairs door onto the gallery, although the extent of roof damage if any is not yet known.

The 1877 tall ship Elissa, restored by GHF in 1982 and a proud symbol of Galveston, seems to have ridden out the storm with little damage beyond the loss of several of her sails. Large steel piles driven deeply in to the harbor bottom allow the vessel to remain attached to the shore even beyond the estimated 18 foot rise of water on Friday.

The Texas Seaport Museum at pier 22, Elissa's home berth, did not do as well, suffering considerable damage to the brick and wooden pier structure, and a suspected total loss of the wooden workshops which serve the maintenance needs of the ship. The Seaport Museum itself, in the 1990 Jones Building, is suffered little damage.

The 1857 Italianate mansion Ashton Villa at 24th and Broadway lost two to three windows on the second floor, and had as much as 18 inches of flooding on the first. Damage to furniture on the first floor and windowless parts of the second floor must be extensive.

The 1889 Gresham House at 14th and Broadway, known as the Bishop's Palace and the most visited historic attraction on the island, seems to have weathered the storm with little damage, as it did during the Great Storm of 1900. The bottom floor of the building, which contains offices, a ticket counter, and has been in the process of renovation as a visitors center, is actually a little below grade. It was subject to as much as three feet of flooding.

The city's two oldest residential houses, the 1837 Michel B. Menard House and the 1839 Samuel May Williams house, suffered surprisingly little visible damage.

The wooden 1859 St Joseph's Church building, the state' oldest German Catholic Church lost one window, but was otherwise undamaged. Its wooden steeple, somewhat truncated in the 1900 storm, still stands. Damage to the contents of the foundation's warehouse on Mechanic Street was extensive, as it was inundated with at least 10 feet of active water. Most of the physical equipment used during Dickens on The Strand, the foundation's popular holiday festival, was destroyed. The foundation's Salvage Warehouse at the Sealy Garage building suffered window damage and flooding of several feet.

The staff at Texas Cooking / Texana urges all of our readers to help out this devoted group by joining as members to the Galveston Historical Foundation in this difficult time. Visit www.galvestonhistory.org and contribute online.

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