Heritage, 2011, Volume 4 Page: 23
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tomarily wore suits, vests, and hats, even
in summer. Women were photographed
in full-length gowns and hats that ap-
COMING FULL CIRCLE
In the early 1990s, George Mitchell's
wife, Cynthia, became a driving force
in saving and restoring the Galvez. The
Mitchell family removed inappropri-
ate additions from 1950-80, and then in
2005, a second renovation, directed by
the Mitchells' daughter Sheridan Mitchell
Lorenz of Austin, restored the windows
on the lobby level to their original ap-
pearance. Lorenz also changed the color
scheme of the lower level to sunnier, tropi-
cal fruit colors to better evoke the hotel's
Spanish colonial architectural style. The
tea-and-cream color of the columns was
traced back to the original color by scrap-
ing samples from the capitals [the upper-
most member of an architectural column]
in Bernardo's restaurant [the hotel eatery].
One of the most dramatic changes ex-
ecuted during the Mitchell restoration
was the decision to restore the hotel's
main entrance to the south side of the ho-
tel, facing the Gulf. Over the years other
owners had reconfigured the lobby so that
the entrance became the porte cochere on
the north side, facing in the direction of
downtown and the bay rather than the
Gulf. To George Mitchell's great credit,
the double front door of the hotel again
allows visitors a panoramic view of the
Gulf of Mexico, the Galvez's raison d'8tre.
*Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from the
first chapter of Gary Cartwright's book,
Hotel Galvez: Queen of the Gulf. Some
minor changes have been made to conform
with Texas HERITAGE style.
George and Cynthia Mitchell
Galveston's Devoted Preservationists
In 1976, George Mitchell and his wife Cynthia, who passed
away in 2002, bought the T. Jefferson League Building, the
first of more than 20 Galveston properties purchased or
built by the couple in what had become an abandoned and
blighted downtown waterfront. From the Mitchells' initial
rehabilitation of historic buildings in the city center, to re-
pair of damage incurred following Hurricane Ike, the couple
invested an estimated $175 million in the preservation of
Galveston. Today, thanks to their efforts and those of the
Galveston Historical Foundation, the coastal city's down-
town is recognized as a National Historic Landmark District
by the National Park Service.
As part of their long-term preservation commitment, the
Mitchells opened The Tremont House in 1985 in conjunction
with the revival of Galveston's citywide Mardi Gras celebra-
tion. The couple renovated the 1879 Leon and H. Blum Build-
ing, which originally served as a dry goods wholesale ware-
house, transforming the historic property into this charming
119-room, European-style hotel. The Tremont House had
the distinction of becoming the first major hotel in down-
town Galveston to open in more than 60 years. In 1993, the
Mitchells also opened the 42-room Harbor House Hotel and
the Pier 21 Complex on the site of a steamship terminal.
The Mitchells put their sights on Galveston's most visible
landmark, Hotel Galvez, in 1993. After purchasing the prop-
erty, they undertook a $20 million upgrade to restore the
hotel's public spaces to their 1911 appearance. This was the
first of four major renovations by the Mitchells during their
ownership of the property.
The couple's historic preservation efforts were honored
in 2001 when they received the National Trust for Historic
Preservation's highest honor, the Louise Dupont Crowin-
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 4, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254223/m1/23/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.