Local

Rare treasure found in Galveston building

Monday, March 08, 2010

Something very special has been sitting untouched in an attic in Galveston's historic Strand District, possibly for over a century. In a place where businesses and homeowners struggle to preserve the unique look of the neighborhood, this discovery is an exciting treasure.

The buildings in Galveston's Strand have survived much over the years. Some go as far back as the Civil War. All of them have weathered the hurricanes that have pummeled the island. But generations after they were built, some still have secrets to reveal.

Jack Walsh uncovered one of those secrets on the third floor of what's called the Magale Building, now 140 years old, when he found an attic no one alive today knew existed.

"When they were cleaning up, they stumbled across it and went up there and saw there was a big area and they found all these things," Walsh explained.

They are things from another time, when this block of the Strand was dotted with hardware stores serving a growing prosperous community. When the ceiling was stripped from the rafters, it revealed an attic storage area for lumber and a very rare commodity -- original, unused antique windows.

"You could call this treasure being found upstairs," said Matt Farragher with the Galveston Historical Foundation. "People find historic documents behind picture frames. These, I think, were just forgotten as the building traded hands over the years."

Records show a sash and door warehouse was once housed here. It vanished years ago, but plenty was left behind -- more than a hundred windows many of which are at least a century old, crafted of old growth woods no longer found. Some are simple windows. Others are large and arched, the same kind seen in so many historic Galveston homes and buildings. Destined now for restoration projects, they've been donated to the Galveston Historical Foundation's salvage warehouse.

"These can be used all over the island," Farragher said. "I'm excited to get a few of them down here on the Strand because these are commercial sized windows."

So the windows will live on, but it's a message for anyone with an old house or building -- try exploring it someday.

Walsh said, "You never know what you can find in someone's attic."

For more information on those rare antique windows, and Galveston's historic structures, visit the Galveston Historical Foundation's website.

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galveston, local, deborah wrigley
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