2300 Ship’s Mechanic Row
On this episode of Strange Town, we make a return trip to Galveston, TX. This time we are given the extremely rare opportunity to investigate the Tremont House, and put our skills to the test.
Galveston, TX is a coastal city located on Galveston Island one hour southeast of Houston. Named after Bernardo de Galvez, a Spanish military leader who led Spanish forces against Britain during the Revolutionary war. Today, Galveston is centered in the tourism, health care and shipping industries. But our story begins at the original Tremont House which first opened its doors in 1839.
Years prior in 1836, General Sam Houston led the Battle of San Jacinto where they defeated the Mexican army in just 18 minutes paving way for the Republic of Texas to be born. While Governor of Texas , Sam Houston was a Unionist, he opposed the Confederate states of America and resigned as Governor for refusing to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy.”
On April 19, 1861, the Tremont hosted a grand ball in honor of the Battle. General Houston made one of his most courageous and inspired speeches of his life from the balcony of the Tremont to a very hostile crowd. Denying rumors that he had been a traitor to Texas and for leaving the Union once the confederacy succeeded, he also warned of the horrors of the imminent Civil War. During the War, Confederate soldiers occupied the Tremont –
The Tremont destroyed soon after, in a raging fire that swept through the Strand district in 1865. Since most buildings were constructed from wood at the time, none stood a chance for survival.
In 1871, the Galveston Hotel Company, which is made up of Galveston citizens began plans for a 2nd Tremont House. The group sought to build a hotel that would rival in grandeur any other building built in the south. A year later in 1872, architect Nicholas J. Clayton built the second Tremont House on half a block of land enclosed by Tremont St, Church and 24th streets.
Just as Galveston was starting to become a boom town, its fate took another drastic turn. A hurricane labeled the Great Storm of 1900 swept through and devastated the city, killing more than half its population. Buildings that were not damaged were used as make shift morgues. Up to 12,000 people lost their lives and 30,000 were left homeless. One of these buildings happened to be the Leon and H Blum building where today’s Tremont House resides.
In 1928, after falling into disrepair, the second Tremont House was demolished.
Galveston’s history has since been restored by Galveston born businessman, real estate developer, and philanthropist Georege P Mitchell. In 1985 George and his wife Cynthia resurrected the former Leon and H. Blum building, and transformed it into the 3rd and current Tremont House a few blocks away from the original location.
Today, the 119-room, Victorian-era style luxury hotel that occupies an entire block on the Strand District. With its glass elevators and four-story atrium, the Tremont’s past is brought back to life by the spirits who once dwelled there. Their are many claims as to what is still roaming within the building. We spent a full night of investigation searching for answers, and what we found will surprise you.
The Tremont House Episode:
Images By: Beverly Barrett
Images By: Beverly Barrett
Producers | Billy Driver, Mark Morrow
Camera Operators | Billy Driver, Mark Morrow
Editor | Billy Driver
Research | Billy Driver, Mark Morrow
Writers | Billy Driver, Mark Morrow
Additional Camera & Still Photography | Beverly Barrett
Produced By | Radio Star Video
Thanks | Sarah Mitchell, The Mitchell Foundation, Christine Hopkins, Melissa Hall and the Guest & Staff at The Tremont House
Music | “Galveston” Written by Jimmy Webb, Performed by Glen Campbell
“The Yellow Rose of Texas” Written by D.George, Performed by Mitch Miller