Museums and culture

Galveston County
Historical Museum

Galveston County Museum Frensel Lighthouse Lens

Galveston County Museum

As you walk up to the building you are greeted by many historical markers around the sidewalk and entryway, along with a statue entitled “Hope” (pic), a 2020 rendition by Doug McLean of Pompeo Coppini’s “Victims of the Galveston Flood” from around 1904.

Important facts

Location Highlights

Contact Information

Galveston’s First Food Truck

You will also see the very first food truck ever to grace the streets of Galveston. It may not be as fancy as the ones we see today, but it served many Galvestonians throughout the years. The idea originated in the kitchen with his wife’s cooking. She learned to make tamales from her neighbor and soon began selling them from her home, making enough income to support her husband’s venture of selling from the food cart. The Tamale Food Truck (pic) would be located at Broadway and 25th St., outside of the famous Open Gates, also known as “The Big House”, once owned by the Sealy family.

Anchors Away

Another exhibit along the entrance is an anchor discovered in 2016 along the south side of the Texas City Dike. It was caught in the fishing nets of the shrimping trawler Captain Hunter. The anchor (pic) dates back to around the 1860s and is representative of anchors used in both naval and commercial vessels of the time. Other artifacts from the Karankawas (pic), natives that had inhabited this land long before the Europeans set foot on the land, are on display as well.

Enter the Museum

Many more artifacts and information await as you enter the main museum. Admission is free to the museum and they are always accepting donations. The museum is divided into categories so you can start anywhere and not have to worry about a timeline of events. As you first enter and go in a clockwise direction the rooms are: Histories Community, Military, Galveston Photography, 1900 Storm, Corner Store, Commerce, Paleontology, Pleasure Island, Immigration Stories, and Architecture.

Museum Layout

Discover the different communities throughout Galveston and the area with histories of places like Crystal Beach, Kemah, Friendswood, High Island, Hitchcock, and others. Read in-depth stories of survivors of the storm of 1900 and discover books written by those who lived it, and lost so much because of it. Learn of the history of photography in Galveston and read about The Murillo Studios, founded by Jesus Morillo, who would later have a scholarship for deserving art students at Galveston Community College named after him.

Corner Stores

Once numbering almost 200 in the 1890-91 directory, corner stores (pic) were labor-intensive investments generally run by families living above the store (pic). The stores were open twelve to fifteen hours a day and six or seven days a week. Unlike grocery stores of today where you pick up your own items, these stores had the merchandise kept on shelves behind the counter so each customer was given individual attention. Corner stores also offered delivery services using bicycles like the one here (pic). This one was owned and used by the S. Tropea Food Store (pic) on 16th & Church. The Tropeas found the bicycle when they purchased the store and would place the bike outside the store as an indication that they were open. The bike was badly damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and rebuilt in 2016 by Tropeas’ son Alfio.   

Hortense of Galveston

Hortense of Galveston helped build jetties that run from the shore and seawall out into the water. The Hortense was a “twin-screw steel vessel 102 by 21 feet…, two compound condensing engine; draft, 7 feet inches. The tug, built at Philadelphia in 1893 for $38,000, (had an) electric search light and incandescent lamps throughout.”

[US Engineer’s report of Major Miller]

This model and case were made by the Captain of the Hortense.

Hours of operation

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