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Galveston in Galveston County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building

1870

 
 
Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 14, 2018
1. Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building Marker
Inscription.  
On July 8, 1869, the press reported the recent completion of the Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building: "It is unlike any other in the external appearance, being finished in the French style with a Mansard roof. The front is of iron and brick, the casting being perhaps a trifle more ornamental than usual… The ground floor is divided into two parts. The Eastern half is occupied by the Insurance Company, as a general office, with an elegantly finished director's parlor in the rear, which is furnished with a marble mantle and grate." (Flake's Daily Bulletin)

The building, and the entire block, burned on December 3, 1869, in the disastrous Moro Castle Fire. The press reported: "This building had the only Mansard roof in the city, and was an ornament of which we were justly proud. Great efforts were made to save it, and… it would have been saved, as were some other buildings, had there been iron shutters. It is now almost level with the ground, workmen being engaged in the taking down of its walls." (Flake's Daily Bulletin, Dec. 5, 1869)

By March, 1870, Merchants Mutual was already constructing the building
Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building Marker (<i>side 2</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 14, 2018
2. Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building Marker (side 2)
Image Courtesy of Rosenberg Library.
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again complete with Mansard roof. This second building, shown in the photograph and standing today, was of the same French Renaissance style as the first and probably identical.

By 1874, Merchants Mutual had ceased operations. By 1881, the building was purchased by the major wholesale clothing house of Halff, Weis and Company, with a branch office and factory in New York City at 466-468 Broadway.

To the right an early building was also destroyed by the Moro Castle Fire. In 1870, Colonel Bolton constructed a second building, but this was badly burned by a self-contained fire in 1876. The Bolton Estate rebuilt the building in 1877, using architects Clayton and Lynch. This third building stands today, though its cast-iron was removed years ago, its cornice and window hood-moulds simplified, and its original stucco (treated to resemble ashlar stone construction) obliterated. For many years this building housed the Smith Brothers Hardware Company. To the left in the photo stands the 1870 J. F. Mangle Building.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1870.
 
Location. 29° 18.411′ N, 94° 47.705′ W. Marker is in Galveston, Texas, in Galveston County. Marker is on Strand Street east of 24th Street, on the right when traveling
Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building Marker (<i>view looking west along Strand Street</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 14, 2018
3. Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building Marker (view looking west along Strand Street)
east. Marker is located along the sidewalk, on the south side of Strand Street, directly in front of the subject building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2317 Strand Street, Galveston TX 77550, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Magale Building (a few steps from this marker); Hutchings, Sealy & Co. (within shouting distance of this marker); Hutchings, Sealy & Co. Buildings (within shouting distance of this marker); Greenleve, Block & Co. Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Nicholas J. Clayton (within shouting distance of this marker); Mitchell Street (within shouting distance of this marker); 1871 Thomas Jefferson League Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas Jefferson League Building (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galveston.
 
More about this marker. Marker consists of two large laser-printed metal plaques, one with text and one with an historic photo of the building, mounted on either side of a five-foot tall post.
 
Regarding Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building. Contributing property, Strand National Historic Landmark District, #70000748 (1970)
 
Also see . . .
1. Strand Historic District. Wikipedia entry:
The Strand Historic District, also known as the Strand District, in downtown Galveston, Texas (USA), is a National Historic Landmark District of mainly Victorian era buildings that now house restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops. The street labeled "The Strand" was actually named Avenue B, which runs parallel to Galveston Bay. The district was listed on the
Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building (<i>tall view; marker visible bottom right corner</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 14, 2018
4. Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building (tall view; marker visible bottom right corner)
National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its unparalleled collection of commercial Victorian architecture in Texas, and its role as the state's major port in the 19th century. (Submitted on February 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Strand Historic District, Merchants Mutual Insurance Company. This was the first structure in Galveston to use the French Renaissance style with the mansard roof. (Submitted on February 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building (<i>center of block; marker visible in front</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 14, 2018
5. Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building (center of block; marker visible in front)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 182 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Jan. 28, 2023