Galveston's Carr Mansion
I recently became a member of Preservation Houston, and have since been increasingly interested in preservation efforts in and around the city. One exciting historic renovation triumph is Carr Mansion, a new little boutique bed and breakfast in Galveston. Built in 1866, it is one of the last remaining landmarks of the island's original building boom in the mid 1800s.
Just after the Civil War, the Greek Revival mansion was built by Lewis W. Carr. In 1870, Texas governor Richard Coke, who founded A&M, purchased the house as a summer home. Over the span of 150 years, the home has endured a lot. From surviving the devastating hurricane in 1900 (the deadliest natural disaster in US history) to being used as a home, church, boarding house and more, the mansion has had many owners and its ups and downs of both TLC and disrepair.
In 1889, Herman and Bertha Marwitz purchased the home as a gift to their daughter and her husband, Ida and John Gross. John worked with Galveston architect Nicholas Clayton, who was well known at the time, to remodel and expand the property. A new ballroom with a turret and bay window were added. A new front entrance with French doors, ornate fireplace mantles imported from Europe, along with plumbing and electricity, were just a few of the major additions.
In 2017, the estate was purchased by Clay Carter, who runs an Austin-based investment team. Carter, who grew up in Houston, saw potential in the mansion and wanted to create a destination in Galveston that travelers would be excited about visiting.
“One of the values that drove me to revitalize this house," Carter says, "is a desire to be a part of good things being redeemed and resurrected. We’re thrilled to be able to breathe new life into this beautiful, historic home and provide memorable experiences to tourists and the Galveston community.” Austin-based Shannon Eddings was selected as the interior designer, and the team went to work renovating the historic home.
Each of the rooms are thoughtfully named after historically significant people to the mansion's past: The Preacher, The Church Lady, The Socialite, The Newlyweds, The Merchant, The Grocer, and the Governor, as well as The Carriage House -- a later addition to the home that used to house a horse-drawn carriage.
Eddings filled the home with a mix of antiques and pops of mid-century, giving it a welcoming, colorfully eclectic feel. The designer says that Carr Mansion "combined two of [her] passions, history and design, and got [her] seriously interested in 1800's Texas architecture."
Throughout the hotel, guests will find nods to the mansion's past, from historic maps to framed postcards from the bygone era. Eddings told the Houston Chronicle that it was "exciting to juxtapose the historic woodwork and molding of the place with clean-lined, contemporary furniture and lighting."
Only an hour from Houston, Carr Mansion is beckoning to me as a local oasis -- one where historic preservation meets fresh design, and I'm looking forward to visiting the beach again to see this beautiful mansion in person.