House History

Sonnentheil House at 1826 Sealy House History
The Sonnentheil House at 1826 Sealy, circa 1960. Street Files SF_AveI_FF1-7.

The Galveston and Texas History Center has a wealth of materials to aid in researching one's house or property, as well as historic buildings in Galveston. From manuscripts documenting the age and previous owners of a building to photographs of homes from the past and present, our holdings chronicle the history of residences, businesses, and other notable structures of the city of Galveston.

House History Resources

Available in the Galveston and Texas History Center and/or online. Collection inventories may be searched in the Archives Catalog.

House/Property History

Galveston Insurance Board Records

  • Existing buildings, MS83-0012.
  • Demolished buildings, MS83-0055.
  • An Insurance Board record is a one-page document available for most extant older structures in the City of Galveston. Information contained includes build date (if known), basic information on the structure (roof material, frame/brick structure, fuel type for lighting, size of building, etc.), previous owners, and structure usage (dwelling, business, owner or tenant occupied, etc.).
  • City properties are filed by Block/Outlot No. and Lot No., both of which can be determined by:
  • Copies of Insurance Board Records are in the Reading Room. Staff will locate the material for the patron. Original records may need to be consulted if a copy cannot be located.
  • Records for newer subdivisions as well as other regions in Galveston County may be available. See Galveston Insurance Board Records manuscript inventories.

Sanborn Maps

  • Available online at UT-Austin Libraries for 1877, 1885, 1889, 1899, 1912, 1918, 1923, 1947.
  • Sanborn Maps show the location and footprint of structures on a block and lot in a given year.
  • Years available at GTHC: primarily 1889, 1899, 1912, and 1912 with updates indicated by “paste-overs.”
  • Use to compare the different dates for changes in the footprint of the structures or to determine when a structure was built.

Tax Records

Galveston County Tax Assessor’s Abstracts: 1880-1914.

Ledger books listing values of properties in a given year. Divided by city lots and out lots.

Galveston County Tax Rolls: 1838-1921. MS83-0013 (on microfilm).

Rolls listing values and owners of properties in a given year. Arranged chronologically, then alphabetically.

Genealogical History

City Directories (on shelf; other years on microfilm)

  • Use by year to determine who was living at a particular address.
  • Cross-reference listings by address begin in 1908.
  • Years 1859-1919 available online on the Portal to Texas History. Full-text search for address.

U.S. Census, 1790-1940 (every 10 years)

  • Indexed by name. Use to determine a list of the individuals (family members & renters) living at an address, but you will need to start with a name.
  • Available on Rosenberg Library’s E-Library website under “History, Genealogy, & Anthropology”. Click Ancestry Library Edition (in library only) or Heritage Quest.


  • Available on Rosenberg Library’s E-Library website under “Articles, News, & Magazines” section. Click NewspaperArchive.
  • Free if used on-site or remotely with library card.
  • Can be used to search an address for events, real estate advertisements, photos, and news about residents at that address.

Photographic Collections

Street Files Photograph Collection

Digitized photographic collection of Galveston streetscapes, buildings, and houses. Arranged by street name; lettered streets followed by numbered streets and named streets. (Search Archives Catalog > click “S” > Scroll down to “Street Files Photograph Collection” > Click street name on the left)

Rosenberg Library Museum Online Catalog

Includes paintings of historic homes and buildings.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Special Collections #48

Negatives and duplicate prints of photos taken during survey.

A Guide to Historic Galveston, Special Collections #98

Unpublished photos taken of various Galveston structures during research for A Guide to Historic Galveston, co-authored by Douglas A. Zwiener and Elisabeth F. Darst.

Galveston Historical Markers, Special Collections #135

Markers prepared by the Texas Historical Survey Committee. Of special interest: Walter Gresham residence, Trinity Episcopal Church, First Lutheran Church, and St. Mary's Cathedral.

Chapin Family Slide Collection, Special Collections #168.

Photographic slides of historical Galveston houses circa 1964, including Ashton Villa and Gresham residence, and the Washington Hotel fire on 23rd St and Mechanic.

Galveston County Historical Survey Committee, Special Collections #245

Snapshots taken by the Galveston County Historical Survey Committee of buildings, city directory advertisements, and lithographs of business buildings.


Architectural Drawings

Collections of architectural drawings of notable Galveston buildings and residences. Notarized authorization from building owner is required to view drawings of extant structures.

Architectural Drawings and Structural Plans Collection, MS83-0023.

Drawings and plans for various residences, churches, municipal-industrial buildings, parks and recreation centers, and other structures in Galveston Island and Galveston County.

Rapp Architectural Collection, MS2002-0002.

Architectural drawings and related project files from Rapp Partners, Inc. Includes plans for residences, businesses, and landmarks such as Sacred Heart Church and the Balinese Room.

Joseph F. Cooley Papers, MS81-0020.

Architectural drawings by Joseph F. Cooley for 24 projects in Galveston, including the Martini Theatre, Galveston County Hospital, and the E.S. Levy & Co. building.

Andrew Fraser Papers, MS83-0002.

Drawings by Andrew Fraser for 15 projects in Galveston, Austin, and San Antonio, as well as in Mobile, Alabama and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Lawrence A. Rehm Papers, MS83-0050.

Drawings of residences and other buildings collected by Galveston-based advertiser Lawrence Rehm.

Kenneth Shelton Collection, MS83-0022.

Copies of architectural drawings in the custody of Kenneth Shelton, chiefly of projects by the Galveston office of C. D. Hill.

Neighborhood History

Collections about Galveston neighborhoods and neighborhood associations:

Vertical File Collection

Files contain newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and various ephemera relating to neighborhoods, residents, and some individual homes.

Cedar Lawn Association Architectural Survey Records, MS2008-0003.

Architectural survey records and a published history of the Cedar Lawn Association and the architecture of its homes.

Galveston Alliance of Island Neighborhoods Records, MS2018-0006.

Administrative records of the Galveston Alliance of Island Neighborhoods.

Oleander Park Homestead Association By-Laws, MS04-0056.

By-laws of an association formed in 1877 to steward a 32 ½-acre property that contained 182 lots with alleys and wide streets.

Palm Terrace Housing Project Documentation Notebook, MS2009-0003.

Notebook containing maps, photographs, drawings, and a historical narrative of the Palm Terrace Housing Project, located between 43rd and 46th Streets, and Avenues H and I.

Ramonda Jo Seeber Papers, MS96-0015.

Files on the Silk Stocking Historical District Association, including brochures, by-laws, community action files, correspondence, minutes, newsletters, pamphlets, and reports.

San Jacinto Neighborhood Association Records, MS2017-0050.

Research materials documenting the Association's efforts to improve and maintain the San Jacinto Neighborhood, bounded by Broadway (Avenue J), 23rd St., and Seawall Blvd.

Silk Stocking Historical District Association Records, MS92-0011.

Research files created by Lennie Brown on the Silk Stocking Historical District, bounded by Avenue L, 24th Street, Avenue N, and 25th Street (Rosenberg Avenue).

Old Galveston Quarter Property Owners Association records, MS2018-0016.

The Old Galveston Quarter Property Owners Association's articles of incorporation, a volunteer list, a map of the proposed quarter, and various publications on historic preservation and renovation in and outside of Galveston, Texas.

Notable Historic Buildings

Collections of research notes compiled by persons or organizations about the history of notable Galveston buildings and residences:

Abstract of Title to Lot 1, Northeast Outlot 65, MS2019-0008.

Summaries of Galveston County property records for Lot 1 in the Northeast Block of Outlot 65 (2727 Avenue O) in Galveston, Texas from 1844 to 1913.

Aglaian Study Club scrapbooks, MS80-0014.

Two scrapbooks titled "Business for Beauty," compiled by the Aglaian Study Club during their campaign to beautify the city of Galveston. The scrapbooks include photographs of businesses before and after the club's beautification efforts.

Alex Crane Papers, MS86-0010.

Contains manuscript entitled "Grand Old Galveston," by Alex Crane and contains descriptions of historic homes and biographical sketches of their owners.

Ashton Villa Collection, MS85-0023.

Manuscripts, photographs, negatives, correspondence, deeds, and other printed materials relating to Ashton Villa and its builder, James Moreau Brown.

Elisabeth Darst Notes on A Guide to Historic Galveston, MS87-0026.

Elisabeth Darst's notes for A Guide to Historic Galveston, a book she co-authored with Douglas R. Zwiener about historic homes, businesses, and churches in Galveston.

Michael Doherty Collection on Ashton Villa, MS2017-0053.

Collection of printed materials from an information packet prepared for Ashton Villa docents, including fact sheets and original research into the history of its construction, the founder James Moreau Brown and his family, the city of Galveston, and the city's architecture.

Dorsey-Breinholt Property Papers, MS93-0020.

Abstracts, property deeds, and tax receipts concerning property located in Outlot 17, Northeast Quadrant, in Galveston. According to the 1921 Galveston City Directory, Charles H. Dorsey resided at 1323-23rd Street.

Galveston Historical Foundation Ashton Villa Committee Records, MS74-0011 and MS86-0007.

Collections of correspondence, minutes, photographs, research notes, clippings, information on the Brown Family, blueprints, and other printed materials chronicling the committee's operations.

Howard Barnstone Collection, MS99-0028.

Correspondence, speeches, notes and worksheets containing research most likely for Barnstone's The Galveston That Was, a historical text chronicling Galveston's past architectural heritage with photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ezra Stoller.

Galveston County Historical Survey Committee Research Index, MS2002-0039.

Index of handwritten note cards concerning existing and demolished Galveston buildings.

Galveston County Historical Survey Committee Scrapbooks, MS92-0015.

Scrapbooks which contain information about various landmarks in Galveston County which were presented historical markers.

Historic American Buildings Survey. Galveston Architecture Inventory, MS2002-0038.

Descriptions and photographs of historic homes and buildings in Galveston surveyed during 1966-1967.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Galveston Survey Records, MS72-1995.

Research notes from a survey of Galveston architecture conducted by John C. Garner, Jr. with the Galveston Historical Foundation.

Jane Chapin Papers, MS97-0019 and MS2018-0053.

Collections of research files concerning historic homes and other landmarks from Galveston researcher Jane Chapin.

Other Resources

Galveston Historical Foundation

Preservation Resource Center

2228 Broadway

Galveston, TX 77550


Galveston County Clerk’s Office (for Galveston property deeds)

600 59th Street Suite 2001, 2nd floor

PO. Box 17253, Galveston, TX 77552-7253

Galveston Central Appraisal District (for County property search, tax information, and online maps)

9850 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway

Ste. A101

Texas City, TX 77591

409-935-1980 or 866-277-4725

[email protected]

Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress Photographic Collection

Insurance Board record House History
Insurance Board record for block 68, lot 3, Galveston, Texas

Updated 2021-02-13 LM