Hotel Galvez wants its old towels for its birthday

GALVESTON, TX It's one of the surviving great hotels from another time. The Hotel Galvez reigned supreme on Seawall Boulevard. The Galvez then was known as the Queen of the Gulf. The Galvez today looks much the same, while the island has changed around it.

Former Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas is part of the Kempner family that helped create it.

"It has withstood many storms ever since, so we're very proud of the history, both the history that created the hotel and the history of the hotel as it stands today," she said.

The Galvez was in decline when it was sold and overhauled in the 80s. It was bankrupt, was sold at auction. George Mitchell's wife convinced him to buy it in the 90s and restore it to its original glory.

"First thing when we bought it, we said get rid of that damn pool," said Mitchell. "You can smell that damn chlorine all the way through the dining room."

He did that and more, restoring and renovating, even all the way down to the basement, where once, Dr. Sinks McLarty and his parents lived when he was a child. His father was the house doctor in exchange for free rent during the Depression.

"We were so darn broke that we couldn't eat in the dining room because it cost too much, so we ate in boarding houses that were around at that time," he said.

Galveston prospered during prohibition. Stars through the 60s made the Galvez a tour stop. Their pictures are part of the Hall of History exhibit, along with memorabilia from the hotel's past. More is needed, though, so calling all former guests, the hotels wants it towels back and anything else you might have.

"Dishes, linens, fixtures of any kind, anything that has to do with the hotel," said Jodi Wright-Gifley with the Galveston County Historical Museum. "More souvenirs would be fine, too."

There will be a series of events throughout the year to continue the Centennial celebration, including a recommitment ceremony for couples married there.

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