Museums: Galveston

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Galveston is home to a host of museums so no matter if your interest lies with flight, trains, ships, autos, or history there is a place in town for you to explore.

List of Galveston Museums

Galveston Railroad Museum

123 25th St.
Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: (409)765-5700

Towering at the head of the Strand, the vast Railroad Museum boasts one of the largest restored railroad collections in the southwest, and one of the five largest in the country, with more then 20,000 railroad items, including more than 40 engines and cars. Saved from demolition by the Moody Foundation, this impressive Art Deco building was once the Union Passenger Depot. Now the waiting room is filled with life-size plaster models of “ghosts of travelers past” telling tales of their Victorian rail adventure when Galveston and its railroads were at the heart of Texas commerce.

Shearn Moody Plaza was the headquarters of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe until the offices closed in 1964. The majority of the building is office space for various businesses and organizations, but the large, central waiting room is the original waiting room built in 1932.

As you walk in the front door from the Strand, to your left you will observe what was the Harvey House restaurant, to your right was the ticket booth, and straight ahead was the news stand and the doors to the concourses. The waiting room is now called the People’s Gallery and is populated by Ghosts of Travelers Past. The full-sized figures in the gallery were made with plaster molds of real persons, and depict individuals who might have passed through the waiting room in 1932. The figures were created in 1981 by Elliot and Ivan Schwarz.

Off to the left, where the Harvey House was, are several pieces of railroad china on display. These were donated by Henry Renfert and collectively are known as the Renfert Collection.

The Santa Fe Freight Building, to the left as one walks out onto the concourse, parallels Santa Fe Place and now houses three theaters depicting stages of Galveston history, and a HO-scale model railroad under construction.

The original Santa Fe carpentry shop faces onto the parking lot. It was converted to a replica of the 1875 Victorian era station which was located elsewhere in Galveston. This building now houses the Museum offices. The former freight offices were converted to the Museum offices and the former Railway Express building was converted to a series of theaters in which brief histories of the island are shown. The waiting room of the terminal was left essentially intact, but was peopled by plaster figures in various poses doing what passengers traveling by train would have done in the 1930s.

When renovations were complete in 1982, the Museum opened its doors to visitors. Since then, well over a million visitors have toured the Museum. With the formal establishment of the Museum, donations began to arrive. Among the more notable are the Renfert collection of railroad china, estimated to be the largest collection of its kind in the United States, which was donated by Dr. Henry Renfert of Austin, Texas, in 1991, and the “Martin W. Clement” private business car formerly used by Mr. Clement when he was President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was donated by his son, James Clement of Kingsville, Texas, in 1992.

The Museum has an important story to tell — the birth of railroading in Texas. And it is a story that the Museum intends to preserve for future generations. The state’s first steam locomotive, the “General Sherman,” arrived at the Port of Galveston in 1853. Railroads became the lifeblood of Texas commerce, with an ever-expanding network of rail arteries serving to link major areas. As the largest, most cosmopolitan city in the southwest, Galveston in the late 1800s was the heart, pumping cotton, sugar, and other goods onto and off of rail cars at its thriving port. During its railroading history Galveston Island has been headquarters of and/or served by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe, the Galveston, Houston and Henderson, the Gulf and Interstate, the M-K-T, the Texas and Pacific, the Burlington-Rock Island, Missouri Pacific, and the Southern Pacific.

Even today railroads play a part in Galveston life. The port is served by the Union Pacific and its subsidiary the Southern Pacific, and by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroads. These lines carry grain, sugar, sulfur and other commodities daily. Visitors can not only see the Museum’s historical collection, they can observe the daily activities at the nearby Port of Galveston’s grain unloading facility.

Admission
Adults: $6
Seniors 60 & Older: $5
Kids 4-12: $4

Rental Information
The Railroad Museum is a unique setting for receptions with space available both indoors or outdoors. The courtyard area includes a gazebo for entertainment and the “People’s Gallery” inside offers ample space for a large reception or ball. The capacity inside is 250 seated guests. Outside in the “Garden of Steam,” 1,000-seated guests can be accommodated or 1,500 for a standing reception, weather permitting. For information call (409)765-5700.

Hours of Operation
Open Daily for Self-Guided Tours: 10am – 5pm

Lone Star Flight Museum

2002 Terminal Dr.
(next to Moody Gardens & Galveston Airport)
Galveston, TX 77554
Phone: (409)740-7722

Website: www.lonestarflight.org

The Lone Star Flight Museum is home to one of the finest collections of restored aircraft and aviation exhibits in the nation. Over 40 restored aircraft are displayed and most are in working condition. The collection includes WWII Fighters, Bombers, Liaison Trainers, and Executive Planes.

The museum is a volunteer, not-for-profit, tax exempt 501 (c) (3), educational museum, dedicated to the men and women who developed aviation to the science it is today; and, to the memory and spirit of those who flew in the defense of our country and freedom throughout the world. This self-supporting membership organization derives funds from admissions, donations and fund raising activities. No State or Federal funding is received. All donations are tax deductible within IRS guidelines.

Fly-in visits are encouraged (GLS Unicom – 123.05).

The mission of the Lone Star Flight Museum is to inform and educate the public of their aviation heritage and history by: acquiring, restoring to flying condition and preserving a collection of aircraft representing the evolution of aircraft design and operational capabilities; acquiring, preserving and displaying artifacts and memorabilia depicting the development of aviation; providing a facility for the proper display and preservation of the collection and a suitable setting for aviation memorials; and establishing a membership to support the aviation heritage collection in the highest museum standards.

Admission
Adults (over 18): $8
Seniors (65+): $5
Students (age 5-17): $5
Children Under 5: Free Group rates available for 20 or more people. Call for rates.

Rental Information
The Lone Star Flight Museum can accommodate up to 1,500 guests for a stand-up reception and 1,000 guests for sit-down dinner. The Museum offers more than 40,000 square feet of exhibit space. Rental costs vary with the group size. Rental of full facility is also available for exhibit and trade shows. The planes can be rearranged for space. For information call (409)740-7722.

Hours of Operation
Open Daily: 9am – 5pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum

1900 Harborside Dr.
Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: (409)766-STAR

Less than an hour from downtown Houston, the world’s petroleum capital, the Offshore Energy Center (OEC) operates its facility, the Ocean Star. This totally unique museum and learning center is located on Galveston’s Pier 19, at Harborside Drive and 20th Street, just one block off The Strand.

Take a leisurely, self-guided tour through the retired Ocean Star jack-up rig which now serves as a museum and educational facility. From geological exploration, to drilling, to oil and gas production, you will see offshore drilling equipment, exhibits and videos on three levels of this refurbished offshore drilling rig.

To more fully enjoy your tour, be sure to get your copy of the official “Ocean Star Self-Guiding Souvenir Tour Guide Book.” Available at the Gift Shop, it has more than 150 photos and concise information about the museum’s displays, models and equipment.

Admission
Adults: $8
Seniors over 55: $5
Students (age 7-18): $5
Children 6 & Under: Free

Museum Reservations
Individual guests and families do not need to call for reservations. Admission tickets can be purchased upon arrival in our gift shop.

If you are interested in bringing a group of 25 individuals or more, please call the Ocean Star at (409)766-7827 for more information. Reduced admission rates available for groups of 25 or more. Group tour requests must be made at least two-weeks in advance.

Rental Information
The Ocean Star is available to rent for meetings, luncheons, theme parties and receptions. Rental options include the Conference Room, the Third Floor or the entire Rig. For additional details, please call (409)766-7827.

Hours of Operation
Summer Hours
Open daily: 10am – 5pm

Winter Hours
Open daily: 10am – 4pm

Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Rosenberg Library

2310 Sealy Ave.
Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: (409)763-8854 Website: www.rosenberg-library.orgThe Rosenberg Library, successor to the Galveston Mercantile Library which was founded in 1871, is the oldest public library in Texas in continuous operation.With funding provided through a bequest from Henry Rosenberg, the Rosenberg Library Association was organized in 1900 as a private corporation to give free library service to all Galvestonians. Since its incorporation the institution has been governed by a board of twenty trustees, who meet annually to elect a nine-member board of directors.The Rosenberg Library opened in 1904. A year later it absorbed the collections of the Galveston Public Library, thus formalizing its new role as the public library for the city of Galveston.From the beginning, the Rosenberg Library has been more than a simple book repository. Its early history reflects its cultural importance. Led by the board of directors, the first librarian, Frank C. Patten (librarian from 1904 to 1934), initiated several programs that emphasized community involvement. Early lecture series, for example, often attracted audiences of 700. Patten and the board worked together to develop collections that went far beyond the scope of most public libraries.As a result of their work and that of succeeding boards and staff, the library has compiled outstanding collections of manuscripts, maps, artifacts, and printed items. The Galveston and Texas History Center, for example, collects materials relating to Galveston and early Texas. Major manuscript collections include the papers of Samuel May Williams, Gail Borden, John Grant Tod, Jr., and James Morgan; the records of several nineteenth and early twentieth century businesses, including those of Harris Kempner, Henry M. Trueheart, and J. C. League; the records of several organizations and churches in the area; and twentieth-century collections reflecting recent events and activities in Galveston and the upper Gulf Coast. The map collection includes maps and charts of Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and adjacent coasts dating from the sixteenth century to the present.Holdings of the museum department include historical artifacts pertaining to Galveston or early Texas, paintings of Galveston subjects or by such local artists as Julius Stockfleth and Boyer Gonzalez, and a sizable collection of Russian and Greek icons. The Fox Rare Book Room contains incunabula, first editions, and examples of fine printing.The library staff and boards of directors have continued the tradition of varied library services. In addition to developing special collections and circulating over 250,000 books annually, the library offers art and historical exhibits, lectures, film series, computer classes, and meeting facilities for over 100 groups a year. Since 1941 the city and county of Galveston have contributed to the support of the library. About three-fourths of the operating budget comes from public funds, while the remainder derives from private endowments and gifts.The Rosenberg Library is the headquarters library for the Galveston County Library System, a structure in which the head of the Rosenberg Library is also the county librarian.

In 1967 the library board of directors launched a campaign to build a wing that more than doubled the size of the original library building. Funded by the Moody Foundation and countless gifts from other sources, the Moody Wing opened in 1971, 100 years after the Galveston Chamber of Commerce established the Galveston Mercantile Library.

Rosenberg Library offers free Wi-Fi and computer services to the public. The Rosenberg Library Computer Lab offers forty adult and two children’s computer workstations. Each workstation is networked directly into our 100mbps LAN and our T1 Internet connection. Wireless connection is available for use by patrons with personal laptop computers. The Computer Lab also provides black-and-white and color printers, with a small per-page printing fee. Computer usage is free.

The I.T. Staff offers individual assistance with the use of the computers. Please call 763-8854, ext. 130 for additional details.

Hours of Operation
Main Library
Monday thru Saturday: 9am – 6pm

Computer Lab
Monday thru Saturday: 9:30am – 5:45pm

Galveston & Texas History Center:
Tuesday thru Saturday: 9am – 6pm

 

Seawolf Park

Seawolf Park
Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: (409)797-5114

Seawolf Park features a 3-story pavilion, the USS CAVALLA (WWII Submarine) ; the USS STEWART (destroyer escort – one of only 3 in the world); a Fishing Pier ; and a Playground. The park was built on an immigration station site and offers a three-story pavilion with a view of Galveston harbor, picnic sites, a playground area and a lighted fishing pier. Seawolf Park is available for company picnics, school field trips, and private parties.

The Cavalla
The Cavalla is berthed in Seawolf Park, Galveston, Texas as a memorial to the lost submarine USS Seawolf. The Cavallawas a Gato class fleet sub, designed and built in the summer of 1943 by the Electric Boat Company and launched on November 14, 1943. She was commissioned on Feb. 29, 1944, the first “leap year” boat built by E.B. On June 19, 1944, on her maiden patrol, she sank the 30,000 ton aircraft carrier Shokaku (veteran of Pearl Harbor and Battle of Coral Sea). This earned her the Presidential Unit Citation.

After the war, the Cavallawas decommissioned in 1946. She was brought back to service in 1951 and assigned to the Submarine Squadron 10 in New London, Conn. To meet the Soviet threat, she underwent conversion in 1952 to a new class of American sub–the SSK (hunter/killer).

On January 21, 1971, the U.S. Navy transferred possession of Cavalla to the Texas Submarine Veterans of WWII. The Cavallawas then delivered to her permanent berth in Seawolf Park, Galveston, Texas.

Gulf coast locals usually refer to the Cavalla as the “Seawolf”, mistaking the name of the memorial park for that of the submarine on exhibit there. Next to her is the USS StewartDE-238.

Cavallais currently enjoying a renaissance; volunteer efforts are at a ten year high, the local press has covered her history and renovation, and efforts are underway to bring her back to the proud state her crews maintained.

The USS Stewart
The Park Board of Trustees of the City of Galveston and the Cavalla Historical Foundation proudly announce that the USS Stewart(DE-238) has officially been sited in the National Register of Historic Places by the Texas Historic Commission.

One of only two surviving destroyer escorts in the United States, the USS Stewart is berthed at Seawolf Park alongside the historic submarine, USS Cavalla, on Pelican Island.

Built at Brown Shipbuilding Company in Houston, Texas in 1942, and commissioned May 31, 1943, the 307 foot destroyer escort USS Stewart, is the second ship named for Rear Admiral Charles Stewart, commander of the USS Constitution from 1813 to 1815. Stewart began her service as a school ship, training student officers prior to escorting President Roosevelt in the presidential yacht down the Potomac River to rendezvous with USS Iowa in the Chesapeake Bay for his mission to Casablanca and Tehran. She commenced North Atlantic convoy operations in 1944, making 30 crossings with occasional enemy submarine and aircraft encounters. Stewartwas moved to the Pacific theater in 1945, to conduct training exercises out of Pearl Harbor until the end of the war.

Decommissioned in late 1945, she was formally donated to Seawolf Park in 1972, where participants of the Save Our Ship Program, a dedicated group of talented volunteers and veterans, have been restoring and maintaining her. The group meets the second week of each month to work on the ship, including acting as tour guides. Approximately 600 Navy veterans nationwide have a special interest in Stewart and are dedicated to keeping her valiant service memory alive. More information can be found here: http://www.edsallclassveterans.info/.

Admission
Parking Fee:
Cars: $6 or $3 for Seniors (65+)
Tour Buses / RV’s: $10
School Buses: $5
Group Rates Available

Fishing:
Adults (12 – 64): $6
Kids (5 – 11): $3
Kids (4 and under): Free
Seniors (65+): $3

Naval Display (Cavalla / Stewart):
Adults: $5
Kids (under 11): $2
Group Rates Available for Naval Display

Hours of Operation
Open year-round dawn to dusk.

Texas Seaport Museum/ELISSA

2100 Harborside Drive
Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: (409)763-1877
Fax: (409)763-3037

Website: www.tsm-elissa.org

Share the adventure of the high seas at the Texas Seaport Museum, home of the celebrated 1877 tall ship Elissa. Explore the decks of this floating National Historic Landmark which has also been designated one of America’s Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Walk Elissa‘s decks and imagine the days when daring sailors challenged the world’s oceans. In the adjacent museum and theater, witness the story of Elissa‘s dramatic rescue from the scrapyard and her meticulous restoration.

Located in the historic port of Galveston, the Texas Seaport Museum also tells the story of a rich legacy of seaborne commerce and immigration. Look for ancestors with a one-of-a-kind computer database containing the names of more than 133,000 immigrants who entered the United States through Galveston, “The Ellis Island of the West.” Join the Museum’s staff and volunteers as they bring the past to life through special exhibits and educational programs.

About Elissa:
Elissais a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland by Alexander Hall & Company. She carries nineteen sails covering over one-quarter of an acre in surface area. Tall ships are classified by the configuration of their sailing rig. In ELISSA’s case, she is a “barque” because she carries square and fore-and-aft sails on her fore and mainmasts, but only fore-and-aft sails on her mizzenmast. From her stern to the tip of her jibboom she measures 205 feet. Her height is 99 feet, 9 inches at the main mast and she displaces about 620 tons at her current ballast.

Ongoing Exhibits and Films:
Gold from the Gulf, showcasing the shrimp industry in the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay, on exhibit at the Texas Seaport Museum. The exhibit features the history, ecology and legacy of shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico, but the jewel of the exhibit will be the 1937 shrimp boat Santa Maria, one of the few remaining original mosquito boats in Galveston Bay.

Film: Passage to Galveston: The Story of ELISSA, presented every day on the hour and half-hour, at the theater in the Texas Seaport Museum. This 17-minute, award-winning documentary beautifully tells the story of Elissa‘s discovery, purchase and restoration. Entrance to the film is included in the museum admission price.

Admission
Adults (age 19 & older): $8
Students (age 6 thru 18): $5
Children (age 5 & under): Free
GHF members: Free

Rental Information
With moonlight silhouetting the masts of the 1877 tall ship Elissa, Texas Seaport Museum provides a romantic, outdoor setting for weddings and receptions. The location on Galveston’s historic waterfront also offers a picturesque site for a variety of business and social functions.

Galveston Historical Foundation’s properties offer unique and affordable locations for your party, wedding, luncheon, dinner or business meeting. For reservation information, call (409)763-1877. Or to have a brochure sent to you, please send an email to elissa@galvestonhistory.org.

Hours of Operation
Open Daily: 10am – 5pm

Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and during annual Sea Trials.

Note: Last ticket is sold at 4:30pm. Hours may be seasonal and subject to change.

Moody Mansion Museum

2618 Broadway
Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: (409)762-7668
Phone: (409)765-9770

Website: www.moodymansion.org

Bought by W.L. Moody six days after the 1900 storm (reportedly for “ten cents on the dollar”), this imposing 28,000-square-foot limestone and-brick mansion has 32 rooms filled with opulent furnishings and heirlooms from one of Texas’s most powerful families.

When W.L. Moody died in 1954, TIME magazine proclaimed him one of the 10 wealthiest men in the country. Moody’s philanthropist daughter, Mary Moody Northen, made her social debut in the mansion’s ballroom in 1911 and lived here (with no air conditioning, but a year-round Christmas tree) until it was damaged by hurricane Alicia in 1983. It was subsequently restored with 1900- era furnishings. Notice the gold leaf ceiling in the dining room and the beautiful stained-glass panel in the entry hall of a family welcoming visitors with the words “Welcome ever smiled.”

The home is a unique site for meetings, reunions, weddings, and special events.

Admission
Adults: $8
Seniors: $7
Students: $5

Hours of Operation
Open Daily Labor Day to Memorial Day: 11am – 3pm
Tours at 11am, 1pm, & 3pm

Open Memorial Day to Labor Day: 10am – 3pm
Tours on the hour

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