Being born into a prominent family
comes with expectations for success, and
Galveston’s George Seeligson Sr. (1841-1912)
surely met and surpassed any ambitions
that his parents, former Galveston Mayor
Michael Seeligson (1797-1867) and Adelaide
Gottschalk (1797-1870), had for him.
Even before the Key-Harriss house was built, a
prominent citizen of Galveston lived on the property.
Dr. John Fannin Young Paine (1840-1912) and his wife
Elizabeth Estes (1855-1937) lived in a home on the lot from
1884 to 1910. The physician was a professor of obstetrics
and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch
and a practicing gynecologist and obstetrician at John Sealy
An impressive brick home that anchored the
southwest corner of Tremont (23rd Street) and
Broadway for over 100 years, constructed by
Jacob Lawrence Briggs (1813-1870) in the 1840s,
welcomed some of the most important figures in the
early years of Galveston before fading into history.
Briggs and Nahor B. Yard co-owned Briggs & Yard
on Tremont Street, a highly successful clothing
emporium specializing in “gentlemen’s furnishings.”
Local dandies who frequented the business could
find everything from hats, boots and shoes,
umbrellas, walking canes, travel bags, pocketknives,
hairbrushes, and clothing to prepare themselves to make
the best impression on society.
A grand residence once graced the northeast
corner of 16th Street and Broadway, home
to a succession of families who left an impact
on Galveston Island that lasted long after their
beautiful home was lost.
It was built in 1876 by Captain Jeremiah Niles
Sawyer (1829-1899), who was a native of
Connecticut. After beginning his career as an
apprentice on a whaling ship, Sawyer soon became
a mate and then captain of a series of ships. He
commanded a number of vessels around the world
to places such as Alaska, Cape Horn, San Francisco,
Honolulu, Europe, and the West Indies.
Historic mansions often spark curiosity about the
people who lived within their walls. When these
architectural treasures are lost, the last traces
of families that held important places in Island
history are sometimes erased as well. This is the case
with the Joseph E. Wallis home that formerly graced the
northwest corner of 15th Street and Sealy Avenue.
Many residents in the early days of Galveston had an impact on lives and businesses far beyond the shores of our Island. Determination, keen business sense, and love for family and community were often common threads in the lives that happened within the walls of Galveston’s lost mansions.
Out of all the lost mansions in Galveston, the colonial style home that once stood proudly at Twenty-fourth Street and Broadway may have had the most varied history on the island, evolving from the small cottage of a slave trader to the beautiful home of wealthy philanthropists, and eventually a gift to the community.
Not all of Galveston’s lost mansions were Victorian or Colonial style homes. One in particular, the 1899 Waters Davis Jr. House, was quite modern in appearance even though it was constructed over one hundred years ago.
Julius Kauffman, Sr. (1815-1880) and his wife Clara Jockusch were German immigrants who found
success after marrying in Galveston in 1851, bringing the lines of two prosperous families together. Kauffman was a dominant force in the business of providing a means of
immigration for Germans from Bremen to Galveston. As consul to Austria and Hungary, he used his skills as an importer, merchant, and shipping agent as well as his overseas contacts to establish methods for new Americans to prepay for their European families to join them on the
The newly reorganized Galveston Garden Club is dedicating efforts toward giving a new life to one of Galveston’s oldest homes. Stoically sitting on the corner of Avenue O and Thirty-fifth Street, the 1847 Sydnor-Powhatan House has fallen into disrepair and is the object of plans for a restoration.
One of Galveston’s finest homes was built for a woman who died before she could ever live within its walls. Despite its tragic beginning, the story of the residence would become as impressive as the structure itself.
Over a century and a half ago, one of the finest homes on Galveston Island was built at the southeast corner of 23rd Street and Avenue M. Referred to for years by Galvestonians as the Waters House, the handsome, three-story structure was owned at different times by three of the most prominent men in the Island’s history.
When an imposing mansion owned by the Wood family was destroyed by fire in March 1886, only the wrought-iron fencing and prized oleanders that lined the surrounding sidewalks remained.
Galveston’s private Artillery Club rests on the site of one of the Island’s most beloved mansions from the past. Referred to by the Library of Congress as the Brown-Denson-Moore House, the architectural gem housed even more families and stories than the title suggests.
Sometimes society has to make mistakes to learn from them. That was certainly the case with the demolition of the Morris Lasker House in the 1960s. The loss of this grand Galveston home acted as a catalyst for community members to step up to the challenge of preserving historical homes.
As many beautiful, historic homes as Galveston is proud to have dotting the island, some of the
finest from the past are, sadly, lost. One of these was a spacious, three-story Victorian mansion in the east end of the city at 1228 Market. The home, which belonged to the family of Johann “John” Focke, was constructed in 1886.
It seems appropriate that Galveston’s fabled past includes a long lost castle. Heidenheimer Castle once sat on the northwest corner of Sixteenth Street and Sealy Avenue on the island’s prestigious East End.
Materials for the three-story, eleven-room home, including ten massive columns, were brought to Galveston from Maine by schooner. It was known for its wide porches, beautiful grounds, and elegant landscaping.