Galveston on Endangered List
by: Jim Bell, February 16, 2009 4:02:35 am
Galveston is famous for its ornate 19th century architecture, some that dates to the Republic of Texas. Those old buildings and homes in the Strand Historic Landmark District in and around downtown Galveston have weathered many a storm, meteorological and economic, but Hurricane Ike may have done them in. The district is now one of the state's most Endangered Historic Places, according to Preservation Texas President Libby Buuck.
"We did a picture of part of the Strand in the brochure that we distributed this year, and to look at it you wouldn't even know that that was the Strand. It's got such silt and rubble, and you can tell it's just been through quite a tragedy."
Along with damage spread all over Galveston island, Ike's victims include properties owned by the Galveston Historical Foundation. That includes several historic homes, the Texas Seaport Museum and the Tall Ship Elissa. Foundation Director Dwayne Jones says he meets people every day who didn't know what happened there.
"We still have people who show up in Galveston who do go to the Strand, who ask what happened to the Strand? Why does it look the way it does? So they've missed the whole hurricane story altogether."
The Texas Seaport Museum and the Tall Ship Elissa are the historical foundation's two most visible properties. The Elissa suffered minor structural damage and damage to one of the sails. Jones says the ship is already getting repairs but the museum is almost a total loss.
"The Seaport Museum had water into the museum part of it, enough that it destroyed the exhibits. The biggest damage done at the Seaport Museum was of course the shop, which held all the equipment and things, and that got a big wash-through of water."
Jones estimates it will take more than four million dollars to repair all the damage and completely restore their properties, and the Historical Foundation will have to raise all or most of it. He hopes being listed statewide as an endangered place will shine a bright light on this and help them raise the money they need. Libby Buuck at Preservation Texas is confident Jones and the foundation can do it.
"I know that the wherewithal of the leadership there is going to be one of the greatest assets to getting it back to where it needs to be. The missing piece is going to be the financial resources to do that. So I have every confidence in the Galveston Historical Foundation's ability to restore what was there in terms of the Strand."
There are ten other sites on the 2009 List of Endangered Historic Places from Preservation Texas. Libby Buuck says they're not numbered or ranked because they're all equally endangered. For more information, view the web sites of Preservation Texas and the Galveston Historical Foundation.
Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.