History of the Charles W. Adams Mansion
The mansion was built in 1860 in what is now known as the Silk Stocking National Historic District of Galveston, Texas. Adams, who established the coffee trade between Galveston and Rio de Janeiro, commissioned famous architect, Abner Cook, to design and build the historic mansion. Adams, originally from New Hampshire, moved to Texas from Maine, having sailed from the port of Bangor on the brig “Warwick,” according to historic documents. The vessel was loaded with merchandise and lumber. When he landed in Galveston in 1838, “there were but few houses,” according to documents. He had business ventures in both Houston and Galveston. When, what is now the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce, was founded 175 years ago, Adams played a prominent role, eventually becoming its president.
The two-story mansion was designed in the Greek Revival style of the 19th century with the vernacular center passage form and full facade double galleries graced by colossal order classical columns. Drawing inspiration from local examples including the Galveston Custom House (1854-61; NR 1970) and the George Ball House (1857), such vernacular interpretations of the Greek Revival style remained popular in the Silk Stocking Historical district into the 1870s. The city’s’ affluent merchants erected new houses in the neighborhood to bespeak their wealth and social status. As a result, more than 60% of buildings in the district feature elements of this style. Adams’ house was built with generous two full-width front porches graced by classical columns, a large kitchen in rear to keep heat out of living quarters, and the symmetrical center passage plan incorporates a hallway between flanking rooms.
The Adams Mansion survived the 1900 storm which devastated Galveston, although the first floor was submerged in five feet of water. Its stout construction enabled the house to emerge intact once new plaster and paint were applied. In 1921 the house was tuned from its original Tremont (23rd) Street frontage to face Avenue M to escape the commercial redevelopment along that street. From the 1930s to 1990, the home was operated as a boarding house. New owners updated it in the early 1990s and it became a bed and breakfast inn. The home is now used as a friendly Galveston Island AirBNB destination and retreat center.
About the Silk Stocking National Historic District (SSNHD)
The SSNHD was created in 1975, with 25th Street (also known as Rosenberg Avenue) as the core thoroughfare. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in May 1996. Although no record confirms the historic name of the Silk Stocking District, tradition ascribes this name to the neighborhood’s reputation as the home of Galveston’s prosperous families. It refers to the wealth of the early residents who could afford to buy silk stockings.
Tucked between Broadway and Seawall Boulevard, the SSNHD boasts a varied collection of historic homes that reflect development from the Civil War through World War II. Outlined by Galveston’s other historic boulevard, Rosenberg Avenue (25th Street), it is roughly composed of fourteen blocks. History: The SSNHD was originally developed in the early 1870’s as a mix of single- family houses, a small corner store, large vacant blocks, and industrial sites.
Until the 1890s, the core of the Silk Stocking District was occupied by the Texas Cotton press. After the Texas Press went bankrupt and was demolished, the area was subdivided, and the lots were sold at auction in 1898. It is now one of the most intact residential areas in Galveston that was established in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The neighborhood includes some of Galveston’s best examples of the Queen Anne stye. Several homes with the district, because of their architectural and historical significance, have National Register status, which includes the Charles W. Adams mansion.
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