Galveston

Galveston, situated along the Gulf Coast region in Texas, is the second largest city and seat of the Galveston County. This magnificent city is well known for its historic neighborhoods and a 10 mile (16.09 km) long seawall, which was designed to prevent the destruction caused by floods and hurricane storm surge. Today, Galveston is a popular holiday destination, with a number of tourist attractions. The main places of tourist interest in the city include the Lone Star Flight Museum, Moody Gardens, and the Galveston Schlitterbahn water-park.

The city’s historic downtown and spectacular beaches attracts thousands of tourists every year. Another major attraction in the city is ‘The Strand’, a downtown neighborhood of historic buildings. The neighborhood is home to a number of historical museums and mansions, and features miles of beach front. The Strand also hosts several annual cultural events such as the Mardi Gras Festival, the Lone Star Bike Rally, the Galveston Island Jazz & Blues Festival, the Texas Beach Fest, and a Victorian-themed Christmas festival called “Dickens on the Strand”. The Balinese Room, a historic nightclub situated on a 600 ft (182.88 m) pier extending into the Gulf of Mexico, is yet another attraction in the city. Other important landmarks in the city include the Galveston Railroad Museum, the University of Texas Medical Branch, the restored Grand 1894 Opera House, Ashton Villa, Bishop’s Palace, the Hotel Galvez, and the official Tall Ship of Texas, Elissa, at the Texas Seaport Museum.

Several buildings in the city are noted for their extraordinary architecture. Some of the tallest buildings in Galveston include the American National Insurance Company Tower, San Luis Resort South Tower, One Moody Plaza, John Sealy Hospital Towers at UTMB, and the Medical Arts Building. The Port of Galveston, popularly known as Galveston Wharves, is also well worth visiting. Located on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Port of Galveston serves as a passenger cruise ship terminal for cruise ships operating in Caribbean.

Ashton Villa

Ashton Villa, situated along Broadway in Galveston, Texas, was established by James Moreau Brown in 1859. Brown was a banker, a wholesale hardware merchant, railroad corporation president, and the richest man in Texas. This Italianate home was the grandest mansion in the state at the time it was built. It was the first brick house to be built in Texas. Wonderfully renovated in 1971, Ashton Villa has been now listed on the National register of Historic Places and is also designated as a Recorded Texas Historic landmark. Today, Ashton Villa is full of antiques, original art, and family heirlooms. It offers a close glimpse into the life of a well-known Victorian family.

Ashton Villa was one of the very few homes that survived the Great Storm of 1900. After the Brown family left the mansion, it became home to the El Mina Shrine Temple. However, the Shriners moved out by the 1970s and the villa was in line for annihilation. Fortunately, the property was bought from the federal government by the city of Galveston, for use as a museum. Ashton Villa is the greatest treasure of the Galveston Island and is open to the public since 1974.

Ashton Villa is also considered to be the “most haunted building in America”. The ceiling fans in the Villa have been known to turn themselves on; a chest of drawers in Bettie Brown’s dayroom reportedly locks and unlocks without a key; one bed refuses to stay made; and the ghost of Bettie has been also seen a number of times in the Gold Room. People on tours have also reported feeling a presence around them. The main attractions in the campus include the Heritage Visitors Center, a gift shop, and an information center.

At present, Ashton Villa is the center of the social life of the Island. Enchanting settings for receptions and weddings, parties, meetings, and luncheons are offered by the elegant ballroom of the Villa. Other features of this extraordinarily beautiful villa include a Caterer’s prep room, convenient parking, and rest room facilities. This opulent Mansion had set the standard for all he magnificent homes that followed. It is a great place to visit or to celebrate your next function.

  • Address: 1859 Ashton Villa, 2328 Broadway, Galveston, TX 77550
  • Telephone: (409) 762-3933
  • Hours of Operation: Summer: Mon – Sat, 10 AM – 4 PM; Sun, Noon – 4 PM; Winter: Noon – 4 PM daily
  • Tours: Noon – 4 PM daily, on the hour
  • Website: www.galvestonhistory.org/