A historic treasure
On a secluded street away from the hustle and bustle of the island, you'll find a gorgeous mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival mansion rich with history and one of the last remaining landmarks of the island's original building boom. The land was originally purchased from merchant, banker, and Galveston real estate owner, E. B. Nichols. The house was constructed in 1866 by Lewis W. Carr. And in 2018, we have re-named it Carr Mansion in honor of its heritage.
The house was first sold to former Texas Governor, Richard Coke, in 1870. The governor, most known for restoring constitutional law and order to Texas as well as helping to establish what is now Texas A&M, used the Galveston estate as his summer home. Later, the house was purchased in 1876 by Horace Sloan & Jane Austin, and again in 1889 to Herman & Bertha Marwitz who purchased the property as a gift to their daughter and new son-in-law, Ida & John Gross.
John Gross (Secretary of Galveston Dry Goods) began plans with prominent Galveston architect, Nicholas Clayton, on an expansion and remodeling to include a new elegant ballroom in Queen Anne architectural style with corner turret and large bay window with two additional bedrooms. A new front entrance with French doors and a fan light arch with beveled glass above completed the new exterior. For the interior, the fan light arch was added to the ballroom entrance and two ornate fireplace mantles were imported from Europe for the dining room and new ballroom. A second expansion took place in 1898-99 which included the installation of indoor plumbing and electricity, new dining room (now the Pub), kitchen & butler's pantry, more bedrooms, and the Carriage House.
Surviving the Great Galveston Storm of 1900, the deadliest natural disaster in US history, Carr Mansion is one of the few remaining landmarks representing Galveston Island's earliest building boom. In 1902 during the grade raising of the island, the estate was raised 8 feet. New steps and a pair of lions were added to finish out the elevation change.
The Gross family owned the property through 1950, and for the following five decades, Carr Mansion was used as a church, boarding home, and private residence. After years of neglect, the estate was sold in 1997 and was created into a tropical themed lodge in 1998 called the Mermaid & Dolphin Boutique Inn. The inn was featured in Galveston's Historical Foundation's 25th Anniversary Tour in 1999 as well as HGTV's "Secret Gardens of Galveston" for their tropical garden tour.
In 2017, the estate was purchased by an Austin-based investor team lead by Clay Carter, and work began to make Carr Mansion a modern, beautifully designed destination for Galveston travelers. “Growing up in Houston, Texas, I have fond memories of going down to Galveston to visit the strand, as well as the ocean, and it is a truly special place,” said Clay Carter, Carr Mansion’s lead investor. “One of the values that drove me to revitalize this house is a desire to be a part of good things being redeemed and resurrected. We’re thrilled to be able to breathe new life into this beautiful, historic home and provide memorable experiences to tourists and the Galveston community.” The estate has recaptured its elegant grandeur and the history and charm the estate has to offer is fully on display. Even every bedroom has been named as a tribute to the particular individuals who have shared their lives with the estate through the years. Opening in Summer of 2018, Carr Mansion is perfect for vacationers, weddings, corporate retreats and special events.