The Willis--Moody Mansion, built between 1893 and 1895 in the Richardsonian
Romanesque style, reflects the
position Galveston once held in the economic, political and social
spheres of Texas. Associated with two prominent Galveston mercantile and entrepreneurial
families, the mansion was designed by English-born architect
William H. Tyndall for Narcissa Willis, the widow of Galveston merchant
Richard Short Willis. Tyndall took architect Henry Hobson Richardson's
architectural ideas and adapted them to Galveston's warm marine climate.
Porches, tall windows, galleries and rooms with south-facing exposures
to catch the Gulf breezes were included with turrets, heavy arches and
massive stonework in this four-story home to produce the only
building in Galveston to exhibit direct characteristics of the Richardsonian Romanesque
style. Just five years after its completion, in 1900, the house was
purchased from Narcissa Willis's heir by William Lewis Moody, Jr., whose
business ventures over the ensuing five decades would play a key role
in the development and definition of the economy in Galveston and Texas.
Galveston was the center of cotton exporting in Texas and the Moody
Compress Company (established in 1894) was one of the region's leading
cotton processors. W. L. Moody, Jr., expanded family business interests
along profitable lines that conformed to broader regional patterns,
moving from commodity-based trade to investment-oriented capitalism.
He entered the insurance business in 1905 as a partner in the American
National Insurance Company, and later bought out his partner. He entered the hotel business in 1927, establishing the National Hotel
Company. W. L. Moody, Jr.'s, legacy to the state was the Moody Foundation
of Texas, which, among many generous grants, also included the Moody
State School for Cerebral Palsied Children.
Photos courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation
The Willis--Moody Mansion is located at
2618 Broadway St. in Galveston. The house is open
Monday-Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm and
Sunday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years and Easter. There is a fee for admission, call 409-762-7668 or visit the house's website for further information.