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Galveston Historical Foundation Announces 2010 Heritage at Risk List
Historic Preservation Blog from - Heritage at Risk, endangered history, Galveston Historical Foundation, Texas
Contributed By: Galveston Historical Foundation

On May 7, at an evening reception at Ashton Villa, Galveston Historical Foundation announced its 2010 Heritage at Risk List. New to this year’s list are the Michael Martingano Building (314 18th Street), the William J. Lynch House (3228 Avenue P), and the Martini Theatre (524 21st Street), which had been on the Heritage at Risk List several years ago, and is back on the list now because of recent issues with its marquee and concerns by the City of Galveston Building Standards Committee.

GHF’s full Heritage at Risk list includes 11 historic places in Galveston, three new listings and eight that remain on the list from years past.

Since its inception in 2003, GHF’s Heritage at Risk List has brought attention to historic buildings and resources in danger of being lost around Galveston Island. Modeled after the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, GHF’s Heritage at Risk List differs from the national list in that when an endangered property or resource is listed, it remains on the GHF Heritage at Risk List so long as there is an active threat.

  • The Michael Martingano Building was built in 1914 with a shoe maker’s shop on the first floor and the family residence above. The building was last rehabilitated in 1988 and currently sits in a state of static disrepair. Its unique brick design and construction sets this building apart from the predominantly wood-clad Victorian neighborhood. Located on the far western edge of the East End National Historic Landmark District and surrounded by vacant and semi-vacant buildings that make up the eastern border of the Central Business district, this building lies in a transition area that is still struggling to catch up with the redevelopment seen in the adjacent districts.

  • The William J. Lynch House, built the early 1900s, is a two-story structure on the corner of 33rd and Avenue P in the Kempner Park neighborhood. Mr. Lynch was an engineer on Dredge Boat #2 during the grade raising and later on multiple other ships working out of Galveston. His house, located on the busy corner of 33rd and Avenue P, serves as a bookend to the neighborhood. Behind the overgrown hedges lies an eclectic house with double galleries, a gable-ended two-story bay window accentuated with fish-scale siding, and a unique curving side elevation along 33rd Street. The building’s neglected state is apparent to anyone who drives by. It brings down the overall character of the block. The windows are broken and the house has fallen into a serious state of disrepair; it shows no signs of current use.

  • The Martini Theater, built in 1937-38 on the busy corner of 21st and Church in downtown Galveston, was originally used for both vaudeville and motion pictures. The building is one of Galveston’s few examples of Art Deco architecture. The theater has been vacant since the 1970s. The original tall neon marquee was lost many years ago and recent windstorms damaged the remaining elements forcing the city to take action due to safety concerns. The bustling Postoffice arts and entertainment district could benefit from the rehabilitation of this important building, an example of the numerous theaters once located in downtown.

  • The eastern portion of the Hendley Block has been on the list since 2004. Built in 1859 and located on The Strand, this row of four connecting buildings was once one of the largest business houses in Texas. The buildings are noted for their street-level tall double-leaf doors and for their solid granite piers, sills and lintels. The west half of the Hendley Buildings has been restored and houses a retail shop and loft apartments. The east half, however, is vacant and continues to need attention.

  • Also on the list since 2004, the 10-story Jean LaFitte Hotel, built in 1927 as an early skyscraper, was once a popular hotel for business travelers. Located on Church near several other “modern” commercial buildings, the building was designed to reflect Galveston’s progressive attitude in the 1920s and hopefully draw investors to the area. Recently failed rehabilitations left the building without windows and exposed to the elements which is aiding the continued deterioration of this property.

  • The former Falstaff Brewery Complex was built in 1895 at the intersections of 33rd and Church Streets. Originally, it was one of Adolphus Busch’s regional brewery projects as his company expanded throughout the country. Although it changed hands several times, the brewery operated for over eighty years. Now vacant, it is one of Galveston’s last standing factories in the Factory District. There are advocates pushing for demolition of the complex because of safety concerns. The reinforced concrete structure could be rehabilitated into any number of uses and serve as an asset to the neighborhood instead of a hindrance. This area has plenty of open space and another demolition would only add to the deserted nature of this block.

  • The Star State Fire Company No. 3 Fire Station was built in 1903. This was the first integrated fire station on Galveston Island. The city still owns this building and recently named it a City of Galveston Landmark. Being one of the sole remaining historic structures in this part of town, its continued deterioration, and connection to the local history earned it a place on the Heritage at Risk List.

  • The Robles House is located in the East End National Historic Landmark District, which is protected by city ordinance from indiscriminate demolition. The Robles house has been under the threat of demolition by the owner for a number of years. GHF views the structure as one that contributes to the historic value of the district, and one that could set an important precedent in the city’s power to preserve its heritage.

  • The vacant Fort Crockett Military Hospital and Housing Properties, 4100-4500 Seawall Boulevard, were originally put on the list in 2003. These former Fort Crockett buildings range from a pre-World War I hospital to non-commissioned officer housing built in 1939. When the Federal government sold the property it placed protective covenants on the buildings through the Texas Historical Commission. Driving along Seawall Boulevard it is easy to see the current owner has allowed them to deteriorate and they face demolition by neglect.

  • The two-and-one-half-story 1890 McKinney/McDonald House is a survivor of many tragedies including the 1900 and 1915 Storms. Featuring unique architectural elements including a two-story front bay window that culminates in an open turret, this property is one of Galveston’s unique architectural treasures. In 1993, the house burned in a mysterious fire and was left almost abandoned.

  • Galveston’s Unprotected Historic Neighborhoods feature Galveston’s famed architectural legacy. However, only a relatively small portion of Galveston’s historic buildings and traditional neighborhoods are protected by the city’s zoning and permitting powers from demolition, inappropriate modification or incompatible new construction. These neighborhoods are at risk without enforceable mechanisms to protect their historic integrity and the qualities that are valued by their residents.

Choosing the Heritage at Risk List Candidates

When selecting a building or resource to add to the Heritage at Risk List, GHF uses four criteria to determine eligibility:

  1. Listed properties or resources must be significant (i.e., listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, a contributing resource in a national or local historic district, or an important local historic resource).
  2. Resources must be in danger of being demolished, severely neglected or unsympathetically altered.
  3. Listed resources must possess reasonable potential for being saved.
  4. Listing will have a positive impact on preservation strategy.

In addition to the eligibility criteria, GHF maintains that properties nominated for the Heritage at Risk List may include resources other than buildings (e.g., landscapes or landscape features, sites, industrial structures) and may also be thematic rather than site-specific (e.g., alley houses, corner stores). The list will be based on preservation priorities as opposed to marketing or fundraising concerns and will be used first and foremost as a goal setting program for GHF. Additionally, any property or resource added to the Heritage at Risk List will remain on the list so long as there is an active threat present upon the endangered property or resource.



Keywords: Heritage at Risk, endangered history, Galveston Historical Foundation, Texas

Posted: May 25, 2010
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