"Island Elegance with Romantic History"
In 1905, Galveston was well on its way to recovering from the devastation of the 1900 Storm and was busy preparing for any future hurricanes with one of the most ambitious public works project ever. The first four miles of the seawall were in place and engineers had turned their attention to raising the grade of the Island. Dikes were built around quarter-mile sections of the city and all the buildings in that section were jacked up along with the water, sewer and gas lines. Dredges took sand from the ship channel and pumped the fluid sand under the raised buildings. The water would drain away and the sand remained, slowly raising the level of the neighborhood. By the time the work was completed, 2,156 structures had been raised, including the 3,000-ton St. Patrick's Church.
John D. Hodson, a British immigrant and partner in the insurance firm of Beers, Kenison & Co., was also well on his way to recovering from the financial devastation of the 1900 Storm. The 39-year-old Hodson had written his sister-in-law in the days following the hurricane, "I have been badly hit with my investments, which were made in the shape of loans on homes, as some of them have been wiped off the face of the earth but I am comparatively young and can build up again."
1905, Hodson's personal finances had rebounded enough for him to commission
architect George B. Stowe to design a home for Hodson's recently acquired
lot in Galveston's East End. At the time, Stowe was gaining a reputation
as one of the Island's most prolific architects. The son of a local
banker, Stowe was born, reared and educated in Galveston. When Stowe
designed the Hodson home in 1905, he created a massive, two-story stucco-covered
brick house with oversized dormers and a raised basement. The interior
reflects an eclectic mix of styles marking the transition from late
Victorian design to the Craftsman Style of the early 20th century.
Outstanding stained glass and fine woods are hallmarks of the house. The spectacular staircase of Philippine mahogany is particularly noteworthy. The home is an exquisite example of the architecture representing the growth and vigor of Galveston after the 1900 Storm and through the first part of the 20th century.
A Texas state senator from 1922 to 1939, Thomas Jefferson Holbrook, purchased the house in 1942. Holbrook was instrumental in garnering state support for building a new causeway and for expansion of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Holbrook bought the house for his sister, but a sudden illness left her unable to climb the stairs. Three months after purchasing the home, the senator sold the property to John and Lula Roubion.
Roubion, a Galveston native, worked in a variety of jobs during his life. Following in his father's footsteps, he worked in the family business, The Island Bakery. He was later employed as a pastry chef at the Hotel Galvez and Houston's Rice Hotel. He was also in the jukebox business.
Roubion passed away in 1988, and the house stood vacant until 1992, when John H. Agee purchased the property. John and his wife, Rosalinda, embarked on a total restoration of the house. They restored the interior as close as possible to its original condition, restored the exterior repairing masonry and stucco and put up wrought iron fencing and gates. The home was on the Galveston Historic Homes Tour in 1992 and 1993.
The entry doors and transom feature lovely stained glass with an oleander motif. The Craftsman style light fixture in the entry complements the stained glass doors. The perimeter of the oak hardwood floor includes a striped border of oak and mahogany, with a woven geometric pattern featured in each corner. All the floors on the first level are of stepped box design. The coffered ceiling and mahogany paneling have insets of wood burl.
The formal parlor boasts a frieze of cherubs and garlands accenting the ceiling mural. The original interior shutters remain. The gas fireplace is framed by a mahogany mantel with columns and a beveled mirror, also original to the house. The home has a total of four fireplaces. At the time the house was built, gas was modern and wood burning fireplaces were considered outdated.
The study and the formal dining room have impressive ceilings, elegant crown moldings and crystal chandeliers. The dining room has a grape arbor design featured on the stained glass door and transom.
The main stairway leads to the guest room level and is dominated by two double hung, breathtaking stained glass windows on the inside walls. The doors are all of long leaf pine, and there are old fashioned push button light switches in many of the rooms. The guest rooms are elegantly appointed, all with king beds and beautiful antiques.
Within walking distance of Grace Manor :