The Galveston Children’s Home operated under several names and at different locations before being permanently moved to 1315 21st Street. It was originally founded by a Galveston journalist named George B. Dealey in 1878 as the Island City Protestant Orphans Asylum. The next year, the institution housed approximately 40 children. During this time, Dealey turned over the operations of the home to a board of directors, and the name was changed to the Island City Protestant-Israelite Orphans Home. In 1880, the name was changed once again to the Island City Protestant Orphans Home.
Galveston businessman Henry Rosenberg later became the president of the home’s board and, upon his death in 1893, bequeathed $30,000 for the sole purpose of building a permanent building to house the orphanage. Designed by local architect Alfred Muller, the Gothic Revival-style structure was dedicated on November 15, 1895. It operated until September 1900 when it suffered extensive damage from the 1900 Storm. Although most of the roof collapsed and the ground floor completely flooded, 60 people inside (a mix of residents and neighbors who sought refuge there) were unharmed. The damage, however, made it necessary to relocate the children to the Buckner Home in Dallas, Texas for almost two years while the building was repaired.
Repairs were funded by a benefit held at the newly constructed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The event was hosted by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and raised $50,000 for the orphanage. As Alfred Muller had passed away in 1896, architect George B. Stowe was hired to oversee the repair and redesign of the building. Renamed during the repairs, the Galveston Orphans’ Home was rededicated on March 30, 1902.
The building suffered further damage from a hurricane in 1915, the explosion from the Texas City Disaster in 1947, and Hurricane Carla in 1961. At its peak, the orphanage housed 65 children. A resolution prohibiting racial discrimination by the institution was passed on March 3, 1976. To reflect the change in the home’s population from orphans to unwanted and neglected children, the facility underwent a final name change and became the Galveston Children’s Home on May 5, 1976. By the early 1980s, only thirteen children lived on the property, and in 1984, the Galveston Children’s Home, along with the Lasker Home for Homeless Children and other children’s facilities in Galveston, merged to become the Children’s Center, Incorporated, which still serves Galveston Island today.
The Bryan Museum is planning a special exhibit to honor the people who have grown up and worked in the building. The exhibit is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023 and will later be integrated into the museum’s permanent exhibits. As part of the research for the exhibit, we would like to get in touch with individuals who might be willing to be interviewed about their first-hand experiences at the Children’s Home. If you, or anyone you know, lived, or worked in the home, please have them get in touch with the Museum’s curator. We would like to tell your story.
Please contact Eric Broussard by email at firstname.lastname@example.org