Galveston Children's Home

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: General Entry

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: October 30, 2019

The Galveston Children's Home was founded on October 20, 1878, by Galveston journalist George B. Dealey, who, with Mrs. E. M. Arnold, who served as first director, established the institution in a rented house as the Island City Protestant Orphans Asylum. The first child in this home was the offspring of a Confederate family who had tried to found a colony off South America but who had died at sea. In 1879, with forty children in residence, the home was turned over by Dealey to a board of directors made up of representative Galveston citizens, with Judge Charles L. Cleveland as chairman of the board. After this it was known as the Island City Protestant-Israelite Orphans Home. In 1880 efforts were made to obtain a state charter for a Protestant orphans home built on the foundation established by Dealey and Arnold. Lots were purchased and a new board of trustees selected, with Moritz Kopperl as president. Hallie P. (Jack) Ballinger (wife of William Pitt Ballinger) served as first director of the board of twelve Lady Managers, who were authorized by the trustees to assist in directing the institution, now known as the Island City Protestant Orphans Home. Henry Rosenberg, who succeeded Moritz Kopperl in 1883 as board member, became president in 1892, and, upon on his death in 1893, bequeathed the home $30,000 for building purposes. The cornerstone of this Gothic Revival building, designed by Alfred Muller, was laid on October 20, 1894; the building was dedicated on November 15, 1895. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 did considerable damage to the structure and, though none were injured, the children were subsequently removed for a time to the Buckner home (see BUCKNER BAPTIST CHILDREN'S HOME) in Dallas. On October 15, 1900, William Randolph Hearst of the New York Journal hosted a charity bazaar at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to benefit the orphans of Galveston, and on January 10, 190l, it was resolved that the institution be renamed the Galveston Orphans' Home. George B. Stowe was hired as architect, and the $50,000 Hearst had raised was used for rebuilding. This structure, dedicated on March 30, 1902, housed ten children; it was later damaged in the 1915 hurricane.

During World War I the institution lost revenues and staff, and in the Great Depression it was decided to temporarily accept other children as well as orphans. From 1931 to 1933 the number of children at the home increased from forty-seven to sixty-two. In 1938 an executive committee of the Board of Lady Managers was established, with responsibility for the home between regular meetings of the board; in the early 1990s the trustees met quarterly. During World War II provision was made for blackouts, evacuation, and identification tags. In 1944 the home housed sixty-five children. A subscription drive raised funds for repairs in 1946 and 1947, but further damage occurred in the Texas City Disaster of April 16, 1947. The home was damaged again in Hurricane Carla in 1961. A resolution prohibiting racial discrimination by the institution was passed on March 3, 1976. To reflect a change in the home's population from orphans to unwanted and neglected children, the facility was renamed the Galveston Children's Home on May 5, 1976, and adopted revised articles of incorporation and bylaws. In the 1980s some thirteen children remained in residence there. The Galveston Children's Home was licensed by the State Department of Human Resources as a twenty-four-hour child-care facility that could support up to fifty-one children. Admittance was limited to children between the ages of two and fourteen, but once in residence, children could remain until age eighteen. 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.

Samuel Butler Graham and Ellen Newman, Galveston Community Book: A Historical and Biographical Record of Galveston and Galveston County (Galveston: Cawston, 1945). S. C. Griffin, History of Galveston, Texas (Galveston: Cawston, 1931). Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner, “Galveston Children's Home,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
October 30, 2019