Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Staying the Night in the 1838 Menard Home in Galveston!

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of giving a lecture - "Yellow Fever in Galveston During the Civil War" - in Galveston, Texas (see coverage in Galveston Daily News here).  The talk was the last of four this summer sponsored by the Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) as part of its 2012 Menard Lectures on the Civil War.   It was SUCH a privilege and honor to be asked to be a part of the series, which included talks by my friends Andy Hall and Ed Cotham (Andy has a great summary of all the lectures here).

Michel B. Menard Home (Photo courtesy Galveston Historical Foundation)
The lecture was on Sunday afternoon.  The GHF kindly allowed us to spend the night in the fully restored 1838 Michel B. Menard House!  We had the place all to ourselves and we were able to explore this historic home and admire the amazing 19th century furnishings as well as artifacts discovered in the restoration process.

Per the GHF:

Menard Home at Night - Photo by James M. Schmidt
One of the founders of the City of Galveston, Michel B. Menard arrived in Texas in 1829. He was born near Montreal in 1805 and entered the fur trading company of John Jacob Astor at the age of 14. Menard arrived in Nacogodoches in the 1830s and began speculating in Texas land. Because land was only granted to Mexican- born Texans at that time, many of Menard's land deals were made by Juan Seguin, a Mexican citizen who eventually fought under Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. Seguin purchased 4,600 acres at the eastern end of Galveston Island on behalf of Menard in December 1836. With this claim, Menard formed the Galveston City Company with Samuel May Williams and other prominent Texas businessmen in 1838. Galveston was incorporated a year later.
The house, built in 1838 and the oldest on the island, is in the Greek revival style. The furniture and furnishings, with few exceptions, all date from the first half of the 19th century (1800-1850s). They are of the federal, empire, regency, Biedermeier, and William IV styles, as interpreted by American, English, French and German artisans. Carpets, drapes and upholstery fabrics are reproductions appropriate for the period 1830-1850.

Michel Menard died in 1856 and his descendants occupied the house until 1879. In 1880, the house was bought by Edwin N. Ketchum. Ketchum was police chief during the 1900 Storm. The Ketchum family owned the home until the 1970s. During the early 1990s, the house was in such disrepair, it was threatened with demolition by the City of Galveston. The current owners purchased the house and spent years researching, repairing, and reconstructing it. Through a partnership with Galveston Historical Foundation, the house is operated as a museum and is available for private events.

The people at the GHF are doing GREAT work in preserving Galveston's wonderful history.  You can support their efforts by joining the GHF here
Below are some photos I took during our visit.

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Copy of Menard Portrait - Original Hangs in Texas Capitol Building - Photo by James M. Schmidt

Original Pine Floor Boards! (Photo by James M. Schmidt)

Gorgeous "Partners Desk" in Menard Library/Study (Photo by James M. Schmidt)

An exhibit in the "Museum Room" displays artifacts discovered on the graunds and in the home during its restoration (Photo by James M. Schmidt)

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

The lecture was a great success!  More than 80 people attended and it was a great fundraiser for the GHF.  Met some really nice people and got some great questions!  Who could ask for more?!?!?

Photo by Susan B. Schmidt

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