Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023
Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Galveston Historical Volksmarch - Sun., Aug. 3

We're having too much fun, so we had to take a Beach Break!

Yesterday I left you hanging with photos of "Old Red" and Bob standing next to a Hurricane Ike flood line and no explanations. We were on a Volksmarch of historic Galveston.

Old Red is the Ashbel Smith Building on Galveston Island. This Romanesque Revival Building was built in 1891 with red brick and sandstone. It was the first University of Texas Medical Branch Building, but certainly not the last. The building was renovated in 1985, then sustained damage during Hurricane Ike in 2008 when the lower portion was submerged under six feet of water.
Bob in front of the Ashbel Smith Building (Old Red)
Ashbel Smith's bust
High water markers are all around historic Galveston.
Volksmarching is a great way to see new places. Over the 17 years we have been doing these non-competitive walks, we have gotten up close and personal with cities, capitals, festivals, national parks, state parks, and other places we likely wouldn't have seen. Sunday's Galveston Historical Walk was really good!

Both of us were amazed by the gorgeous homes and mansions. To tell you the truth, Galveston is bigger than I ever imagined. Following are our impressions of historic Galveston.

We started out meandering through The Strand (historic buildings now housing restaurants and shops) which reminded us of New Orleans, and neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Ike. Quite a few historic homes took a beating when the storm surge submerged this part of the city.

Because I'm curious, I wondered why this street in Galveston is named "The Strand." On the original plat maps of the city from the late 1830s, the street is named "Avenue B."

A German immigrant who opened a jewelry store on Avenue B didn't like the name of the street, so he changed the name on his stationery to Strand (named after a street in London), thinking the name would have higher-class connotations for his jewelry store. He then convinced other store owners on the street to change the name they used for the street as well. The name stuck. (The word strand comes from Old English for "shore" or "river bank;" in German, Swedish and Dutch, the word means "beach.")

Looks like New Orleans, but it's The Strand in Galveston, TX
Clock says "Observatory Time"
(Corner of The Strand and Kempner)
Bob walking in front of Stewart Title Building.
Above is Stewart Title's original building and they occupy the building to this day.

High water line from Hurricane Ike
Stewart Title - a different perspective
1894 Romanesque Opera House entrance
United States Customs House
So much detail to enjoy on this house.
Victor Gustafson home, a one-story cottage

Hurricane Ike killed 40,000 trees on Galveston Island during its storm surge leaving the landscape bare. Galveston Island Tree Conservancy member Donna Leibbert found chain saw sculptors to create sculptures from the dead trees in the Historic District. (We walked past 20 of them on our walk today!) What once was an eyesore and reminder of the horrors of Hurricane Ike, became a treat for the eyes and spirit.

The sculpting of Galveston's trees is one way of reusing resources. Over 100 tons of wood was selected for the restoration of America's only remaining whaling ship, the Charles M. Morgan. A local lumber yard took several tons of wood to mill and dry for building projects; 200 tons of wood went to Malaga, Spain to be used in the completion of a full-scale replica of the brig "Galveztown." Galvestonians kept 100% of the "Iked" wood out of the landfill. Now that's what I call recycling!

There was an unexpected consequence of losing so many big oak trees from the storm: Homeowners found that without the shade the big trees provided, the sunlight allowed flower gardens to grow. When walking through the historic district there is now an abundance of flowers as homeowners are using them as a substitute for the lost oaks.

Dead tree carving of a pelican eating a fish.
Landes-McDonough House
Trube Castle

Norwegian Wood guitar? (It's a joke, son.)
The carving below is in honor of King Wallis Vidor, one of the directors of the "Wizard of Oz" film. He was born in the house on this location in 1894.

Toto and the Tin Man
Beautiful flowers now grow in place of stately oaks.
Some houses still need work!
In the following photo, the dog was on the roof! What's up with that?

The following notice was posted in front of the house with the dog on the roof.

The 20-year owner of the 1898 home below was walking his great dane puppy and we met him on the sidewalk out front. I noticed his Great Dane sculpture and asked if he lived in the house. (He did indeed.) Their old Great Dane, Hunter, must have passed away. The sculpture was a tribute to Hunter. The tree that grew where the sculpture is now had grown around the fence at the spot where the paws grip the fence. Thieves cut off the paw at the fence line which prompted a reward from the owners. The sculptor, who was still on the island, carved a new one to replace the old one. I can tell you his new Great Dane puppy is absolutely adorable!
Grand home.
New Great Dane puppy.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church
The Sacred Heart Catholic Church design reflects the influences of Moorish, Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque styles. It features ornate octagonal towers, flying buttresses, elaborate ornamentation and a variety of arches.

Bob in front of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Front entrance of the church

Bishop's Palace, another architectural beauty.
Griffin guards entry to Bishop's Palace
Hotel Galvez and Spa
Pleasure Pier
Mural looked great at night.
 Below is the decorated arch entrance to The Strand National Historic Landmark District.

That concludes our walking tour. We spent a little over three hours doing our 10K (6.2 miles) because we took time to look at many of the dead tree sculptures along the way and I HAD to photograph the gorgeous homes and architectural wonders we found. It was hot and humid, so five miles into the walk we bought fruit smoothies. Boy did those taste good!

I know this blog is long, but I want to close by saying this: we found so much more to do in Galveston that we will have to come back for a week. Here's what we have on our bucket list:
  1. Moody Gardens 
  2. Pleasure Pier
  3. Pier 21 Theater (to watch: "The Great Storm" and "The Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte")
  4. Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center and Museum
  5. Galveston Island Railroad Museum
  6. Texas Seaport Museum with Tall Ship Elissa
  7. Schlitterbahn Galveston
  8. Free ferry
  9. Seawolf Park (a WWII submarine, a destroyer escort and other military hardware are open for tours)
  10. Lone Star Flight Museum
  11. Rosenberg Library
 At the end of the day, we were tired but very, very happy.

Monday we are off to the NASA Space Center for a Level 9 tour.

Travel Bug out.


  1. WOW this is a fabulous post! Galveston Chamber of Commerce should tip you. I really must find a way to do these Volksmarches. You see the most interesting things. Love the beautiful houses and the tree sculptures especially the dog. Hats off to the city for keeping its lost trees out of the landfill. But what a sad loss.

  2. Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. We spent quite a few weeks in Galveston in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike helping with some Disaster Recovery work. Wonderful city. Wish we'd have thought of checking out a Volksmarch there. We used to do those in Germany in the early 80's. I agree -- a great way to see the city and local culture. Great post!

  4. This post was NOT too long. Thanks for sharing all this great info. It'll help with our plans when we visit. Where did you camp? Perhaps your next blog post... hint, hint LOL.

  5. So glad you have enjoyed Galveston. It's one of our favorite places!

  6. I really enjoyed my week in Galveston. There is a lot to see. Walking to see the statues was a great idea for the Volksmarch. Some of them are really fantastic and all are worth seeing. As you can see, I am very far behind at blog reading but I will eventually catch up.


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