Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Last spring, Carriage Haus Rentals brought its 1908 Model-T Replica Golf Carts to Historic Galveston. Carriage Haus had already purchased a building on Broadway but it wouldn’t be ready for the peak summer season. We quickly (and luckily) found a wonderful historic building at Strand and 20TH to do a “Pop-Up” location. It was a perfect temporary home for us.
Our work was cut out for us on this Broadway building, though. How do we resurrect this delightful building built in 1940? We had to erase influence forced upon her through the years that distracted from the original design vision. We searched and were unable to find any historic photos of how this building looked back in 1940. But there were clues to be sure for those that looked carefully. Being Homebuilders certainly would aid us in restoring this beauty back to its original glory.
You see, we were given a building that had been modified in the seventies. They removed huge expansive arched windows and replaced with narrow windows swallowed up in a sea of white plaster. During demolition of interior walls, we discovered four of the original half-round arched windows hiding above three (yes, three) drop ceilings.
Wow, what a find! With this new discovery in mind, our vision for the exterior quickly evolved. We must bring back these windows, at least as many as we could afford. We decided to reclaim the non-window arches by displaying faux shutters to give appearance that windows existed but were closed. We also sandblasted columns between windows to reveal the original warm brick detail. We wanted to bring back the powerful arch details. The final product became this.
The inside was last being used as law offices. Well, technically it was last being used by a large group of homeless people with a semi sophisticated boarding system- $10.00 a night with some “House Rules” in place. It even had a conference room that looked like it was converted into an art room full of colorful graffiti. There was also what seemed like a prayer room.
The first floor had 8-foot acoustical tile ceilings. Further investigation revealed a nine-foot as well as a ten-foot ceiling, extremely narrow halls, 15 private offices, a couple of conference rooms. This simply wasn’t going to work for our needs. We also discovered 5 steel I-Beams spanning width of building they were an impressive 12”x 24” with steel plates welded to the top and bottom. This discovery meant we had what is called a “Clear Span Structure” which means that the interior walls are not load bearing and could be removed without compromising integrity of structure. Another great find for us!
It doesn’t stop there. After demolishing the drop ceilings, we uncovered these original wood slat 1x4’s just waiting to be exposed. Our new (old) ceiling was hiding there all along. All we had to do was fill in voids cut out by previous mechanical contractors.
Once we removed nearly all interior walls, we were ready to finish out the interior. Much of the interior brick was covered in plaster. Over the course of 4 months, I would get a cold chisel and hammer and chisel away at the plaster to reveal some of the brick below.
The second floor had been built out to accommodate six apartments. All walls and ceilings were skinned in pine ship lap. Joanna Gaines would have been envious! Since we had no immediate plans for the second floor, we decided to re-claim some of this ship lap and bring downstairs to create a wainscot detail. This was not an easy task. The ship lap was nailed in with 16d nails at every stud. We managed to harvest enough ship lap to create our wainscot look we wanted on first floor. You will notice the ship lap was unpainted upstairs, which was a nice look but we wanted a faux white weathered look.
This was achieved by sloppily painting white paint on boards. Then, we selectively sanded some of the paint off with a belt sander to create this “weathered look”.
The floor was also given to us. Some of the floors had asbestos tile/glue that had to be abated. Under all this was an imperfect concrete floor that had a grid scored into it. Perfect, all we needed to do (not really that easy) was to prepare floor, acid stain the concrete and seal. The finished product was a beautiful and practical flooring for our needs.
Our finished product of this historic restoration gave us a wide-open space that married well with Carriage Haus Rentals Model-T Replica Electric Carts we tended to store inside.
A historic restoration is not complete without incorporating/re-purposing architectural artifacts and unique finds. Those original half-round windows discovered during the demo phase were used in walls between our service counter area and two private offices, giving us ability to see when customers come in through front door. The old-time cigarette cabinet to the left functions now as our Model-T Golf Cart key cabinet. We found this as well as the antique telephone at one of our Round Top Shopping trips.
The antique gas pump was also found in the fields at Warrenton, just down the road from Round Top. We spent big money ($35.00) on a junked aluminum awning (pictured below) to accentuate our bathroom entry. Also shown in picture is a Pepsi sign hidden within one of the walls on Broadway. The safe pictured was left behind by one of the previous Tenants. If anyone has the combination to this safe, please let us know. We have no idea if it has any contents inside.
This Coca Cola sign was discovered by re-claiming the ship lap upstairs. Apparently, this ship lap was repurposed back in 1940 from an old billboard removed from an off-site location. We found enough pieces to make this work. We do not know whose Fruit Stand was being advertised. We found other bill board material but could not re-claim enough pieces of the puzzle to make any literary sense. We have saved them, none the less.
Our final touch we had to add to the building was a mural for a large wall facing Broadway. The blank canvas was a perfect spot to display what we envisioned Broadway to look like at turn of 19TH century. After all, Broadway was a very important part of Historic Galveston.
We found our artist in Derek Anderson. He is well known for doing murals and other wonderful work around town. We also found an old post card from the Rosenberg Library that gave us our inspirational starting point.
This early 19TH century post card shows trolley running down the middle of Broadway. How cool is that? Our final product doesn’t look a lot like this but it was our inspiration. Below is a progression of mural being painted on wall.
The final product from photo taking on our Grand Opening event with artist, Derek Anderson pictured in middle.
Carriage Haus Rentals is so proud of the transformation of this historic building located at 2127 Broadway. We have received many compliments on improving the streetscape on Broadway. We are hoping this inspires others to help bring Broadway back to its Glory Days. Historic Galveston is deserving of it!