Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987 Page: 11
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range from modem beachfront hotels to charming bed
breakfast inns to family-planned condotels. Reservations
are a good idea, as many hotels fill completely for
Dickens weekend. GHF's Tour Service can plan a Dickens
Day or Weekend for motorcoach or other private groups.
The Tour Service can be contacted at the address above.
While in Galveston for the special weekend, many
visitors take advantage of the opportunity to tour other
historic attractions including the 1839 Samuel May
Williams Home, the Galveston Historical Museum,
Ashton Villa, the Bishop's Palace, and the Automobile
Museum, to name a few. Driving tours of Galveston's lovely
19th century residential neighborhoods with hundreds
of restored Victorian homes are yet another treat. Dickens
On The Strand is the perfect time to appreciate the
renaissance which is today's Historic Galveston Island.
Olivia Meyer is Public Relations and Marketing Director, Galveston
Mary Moody Northen
<4 meticulous chronicler of her own life
and that of her family, a firm believer in
tradition and its preservation, and a great
lover of the history of her native Galveston
and Texas, Mary Moody Northen's
contributions to history and historic preservation
may remain unparalleled for years
to come. Mrs. Northen held the distinction
of being the only Texan appointed by six
Texas governors to consecutive terms on
both the Texas Commission on the Arts
and the Texas Historical Commission.
The eldest child of William L. and
Libbie Rice Shearn Moody, Mary Elizabeth
was born in 1892. She married Edwin
Clyde Northen in 1915. Educated by private
tutors, Mrs. Northen was also a close
confidant of her father and received daily
instruction from him on business affairs.
As a result, she was able to capably assume
the reins of the Moody business empire,
consisting of 50 corporations upon the
death of both her father and husband in
Mary Moody Northen, a quiet, shy
woman, known both as the "Grande Dame
of Galveston" and as "Aunt Mary,"
through a keen business acumen led the
family insurance company, American National
Insurance Company, to a position as
the largest life insurance company headquartered
in Texas and 24th among all
such companies in the United States. As
Chairman of the Board of The Moody
Foundation, Mrs. Northen relied on her
equally keen sense of responsibility in
making decisions which have contributed
greatly to society. Her list of accomplishments
in the preservation field is long and
her dedication to these efforts continues
beyond her death in August of 1986.
Today, the family home known as the
Willis-Moody Mansion, located on Galveston's
Broadway, is being readied as a
museum housing the varied and fascinating
collections of this fascinating family.
Mary Moody Northen (1892 - 1986)
Mrs. Northen played a key role in the
saving and restoration of a number of
historic Galveston buildings, including a
personal commitment to save "Old Red,"
the original medical school building of the
University of Texas, designed by the renowned
Nicholas Clayton. Mrs. Northen
appeared before the board of Regents
twice to champion the preservation of Old
Red and made an additional three trips to
Austin to meet with the chancellor and
regents to emphasize her determination to
save this landmark. The building was restored
and reopened in 1985.
The Grande Dame also pursued the
acquisition of the 1932 Santa Fe Railway
building awaiting demolition in 1976,
which today houses offices and another of
Mrs. Northen's loves, The Center for
Transportation and Commerce, better
known as The Railroad Museum. Funded
by The Moody Foundation, the museum
houses the Southwest's largest stock of
restored railcars and locomotives.
This dedication to preserving Galveston
and Texas' past led Mrs. Northen
to play an active role in the funding of the
Galveston Historical Foundation during
its redirection and growth in the 1970s.
The hiring of Peter Brink as the first executive
director and the establishment of The
Strand Revolving Fund for the purchase of
the historic commercial structures of this
National Landmark Historic District were
funded in great part by The Moody Foundation.
Mrs. Northen joined with other
Galvestonians in efforts to save the 1959
mansion, Ashton Villa, and the 1839
Samuel May Williams Home. She assisted
the Junior League in the purchase of the
First City National Bank Building and adaption
as a cultural arts center. In the area
of the arts, Mrs. Northen was in the forefront
of those working to save the historic
1894 Grand Opera House, today a completely
restored performing arts theatre.
Perhaps the most unique of this great
benefactress' projects was the Tall Ship
ELISSA. Mrs. Northen eagerly supported
the efforts to rescue ELISSA from the
Greek scrapyard in 1975 and bring her to
Galveston for restoration to her 1877 sailing
condition. She departed from a longheld
position and personally called upon
friends and colleagues to support this
maritime history project. Mrs. Northen
boarded the iron barque upon its arrival
from Greece and christened the ship following
the restoration. The figurehead of
ELISSA bears the likeness of this remarkable
woman and is a constant reminder of
her dedication to preserving our past for
the education and enjoyment of generations
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Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987, periodical, Autumn 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45439/m1/11/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.