Galveston's Moody Mansion and Museum opened to the public in 1991, in a restored 1893 structure, at 2618 Broadway, that was home to two of Galveston's powerful families. The house was restored and developed as a museum by Mary Moody Northen, Incorporated, a private foundation, and is operated by the Center for Twentieth Century Texas Studies. In addition to the 1893 mansion, the collection includes late nineteenth and twentieth century decorative arts, ephemera associated with the Moody family, and family papers ranging in date from the early nineteenth century, when the Moodys lived in Virginia, to the late twentieth century. The mansion, built between 1893 and 1895 for Mrs. Richard S. Willis by Galveston architect William Tyndall, is in the eclectic tradition of the late nineteenth century, mixing the influence of the Richardsonian Romanesque with the Beaux Arts as adapted for the Texas Gulf Coast. With deep porches, cross ventilation and thick walls, the building was designed to be relatively cool in the summer and to withstand the rigors of major storms. The historic revival style interiors were designed by the New York firm of Pottier and Stymus. Narcissa Willis, widow of grocery merchant Richard Willis, lived in the house from 1895 until her death in 1899. Her family put the house on the market following her death, but it was not purchased until the early fall of 1900 when William L. Moody, Jr., acquired the house for his family, his wife Libbie and his children Mary, W. L. III, Shearn, and Libbie. He lived there until his death in 1954. His daughter, the widowed Mary Moody Northen, acquired the residence from the Moody Foundation and lived in it until three years prior to her death in 1986. The mansion, which had been damaged during hurricane Alicia in 1983, was restored by Mary Moody Northen, Incorporated, with the intent of carrying out Mrs. Northen's wishes to use it as a memorial to her family and a museum for Galveston. When it opened in 1991, the mansion was restored to recreate the character of the house in 1911, the time of Mary Moody's debut. In addition to the period interiors, which use the original furnishings, the house was interpreted with an innovative system of special effect lighting and audio dramas, combined with docents. The intent was to treat the interior as a stage on which the life of the family in 1911 was played out for the visitor. Since the opening, the exhibit program has been and continues to be modified. The museum also has an archive of approximately 1,500 linear feet of material. Beyond family papers and family photographs documenting the personal and business interests of the Moody family, the holdings include substantial collections of greeting and postal cards, architectural blueprints, and commercial ephemera such as catalogs and trade cards. The Moody Mansion and Museum has offered tours to thousands of visitors and serves the scholarly community by making its collections available to researchers and to other museums for loan exhibits.
Howard Barnstone, The Galveston That Was (New York: Macmillan, 1966). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Houses, Mansions, and Plantations
Museums, Libraries, and Archives
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Patrick H. Butler III,
“Moody Mansion and Museum,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed September 28, 2021,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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