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Eaton Memorial Chapel and Galveston's Storm of the Century

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Eaton Memorial Chapel in Galveston, Texas

Eaton Memorial Chapel in Galveston, Texas

Galveston Attraction

Years ago, on a visit to Galveston Island, I had taken many photographs of some of the impressive architectural buildings located there. They would become subject matter for future linoleum cut creations of mine.

Eaton Memorial Chapel is one of the two oldest historical churches on Galveston Island. It is another beautiful and elegant structure designed by architect Nicolas Clayton.

The picturesque windows on a side portion of the building particularly captured my eye. Tiffany Studios of New York made two of the 20 stained glass windows. They are beautiful in the chapel, but so are the design shapes of the windows. Those pointed arched windows remind me of hands folded in prayer, pointing up towards the heavens.

Eaton Memorial Chapel was completed in 1882 and is a part of Trinity Episcopal Church. The chapel was designed in a Gothic Revival style of Architecture. Everything in Gothic Revival architecture seems to lead one's eyes upwards. Somehow it seems so appropriate when executed in churches and cathedrals.

My limited edition print of Eaton Memorial Chapel in Galveston

My limited edition print of Eaton Memorial Chapel in Galveston

Texas Historic Landmark

A medallion from the State Historical Commission placed on the building states the following:

"Eaton Memorial Chapel

Designed by noted architect Nicolas Clayton. Gothic Revival Style. Dedicated as memorial in 1882 to the Rev. Benjamin Eaton, founding rector, 1841 - 71.

Half of funds provided by the Ladies' Parochial Society; half by financier Henry Rosenberg.

After city-wide fire (1885), chapel was used by St. Paul's German Presbyterian Church. Center of parish life 1900 - 01 and 1925 - 27 during church repair. Renovated in 1946 and 1966.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1970."

It seems a fitting tribute that the Reverend Eaton resides in a crypt under the altar inside Eaton Memorial Chapel.


Galveston Island and the "Storm of the Century"

This barrier island of Galveston sits off the coast of Texas. It consists of 208.4 square miles, but of that, almost 78% of it is water.

Back in the 19th century, Galveston had one of the largest seaside ports in the nation. It handled the shipping of most of the cotton that was produced. It was a bustling city and attracted people of means, as evidenced by the historic mansions and other structures erected on that attractive island. Balmy sea breezes permeate the air.

Growth was steady, and everything seemed destined to make it "the place to be" up until the hurricane of 1900. That September 8th day still looms large as far as ranking of natural disasters in United States history!

The most significant number of lives were lost—around 6,000 people!—when those powerful waves swept over the city. It changed the existing structures and affected even new construction to this day.

Most structures that still stood partially or wholly intact were raised. In the case of Eaton Memorial Chapel, its base is now 4 1/2 feet taller than it was previously. That was quite an undertaking and an engineering marvel to accomplish, raising those large historic structures!

Many of the homes, particularly those right along the coastline, are built upon stilts.

Hurricane Ike and Galveston's Seawall

After the devastating 1900 hurricane, a seawall was constructed near the downtown area of Galveston Island. It runs about 10 miles long and is 17 feet high to help protect the city from storm surges. For the most part, this has dramatically aided in defending vital interests in the center of town and the historic district from periodic hurricane damage.

After the more recent Hurricane Ike in 2008, water came over the seawall and flooded much of downtown. Who knows what might have happened had the seawall not been there to take the brute force of those snarling and angry waves! Many people had boarded up and left the island, as was recommended.

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After Ike, the majority of people who dearly love Galveston Island rolled up their sleeves, got to work, and have rebuilt and refurbished what was necessary to get on with their lives. Galveston was very quickly ready to host visitors and tourists. People responded and are once again flocking to see all of the many Galveston attractions.

Visiting Galveston

As one can easily see by visiting the video shown above, Galveston, Texas, is filled to the brim with things to do, see and enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed this look at one of the historic structures on Galveston Island. When visiting Eaton Memorial Chapel, try to attend a service when the massive pipe organ is in use. You will walk away with an even greater appreciation of the acoustics and overall design work done by architect Nicolas Clayton. His architecture has left a lasting and robust imprint upon this beautiful city.

Location of Eaton Memorial Chapel: 2216 Ball Street, Galveston, Texas 77550.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 01, 2020:

Hi Leslie,

Thanks for the compliment on my artwork. It is amazing to think that so many of these buildings in Galveston were raised up so much higher after that devastating hurricane.

Leslie on October 31, 2020:

What a wonderful story of the great Galveston hurricane. Hard to believe the engineering at the time could raise large buildings across the city. Your artwork is an impressive representation of the building. Congratulations on a superb job of reporting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

Yes, Galveston has many attractions for visitors in addition to the beaches.

Rosina S Khan on October 27, 2020:

Eaton Memorial Chapel has wonderful architecture, which I liked a lot. It seems that Galveston is another interesting place to visit in Texas!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2020:

Hi Denise,

I am glad you liked my linocut of the Eaton Memorial Chapel. Yes, that storm of 1900 had horrific consequences. Those sisters did all they could do to protect those orphans and they died together. Thanks for your comment.

Blessings to you!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 04, 2020:

Wow, the story of the Sisters and the orphans made me weep. How horrible. There is no fighting nature when it rages. Your linoleum print is really top notch!



Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 29, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

The people living in Galveston are proud of their heritage and lifestyle. They have overcome some tragedies and are a resilient bunch of islanders.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 28, 2020:

The architecture is stunning and you really have to give it to the people of Galveston for their resilience, given the tragedy that they have seen.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

Galveston is a great place to visit. It has so much beauty and history. Thanks for your visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2020:

Hi Liz,

Galveston has seen more than its share of disasters. The year 1900 is the granddaddy of them all to date. The city's occupants are survivors and have rebuilt when necessary, and made the historic structures more sound.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

I am glad that I found that video showing the inside of the Eaton Memorial Chapel. It is fun knowing that the backside of the video shows Lucille Ball on the Johnny Carson show. Those were the good old days! (Smile)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 26, 2020:

This chapel is beautiful. I love the architecture of the building. Galveston sounds like a very interesting place to visit. I have never been in that area.

It is really good that they have the seawall. That hurricane in 1900, must have been awful. This is another interesting article.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 26, 2020:

Every picture tells a story. You have uncovered interesting but sad historical facts about this chapel and the surrounding area.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 26, 2020:

What a magnificent church! The history surrounding it is interesting, I watched the last video and enjoyed seeing the interior. BTW the backside of the video has some great shows to watch. I just watched Lucille Ball on the Johnny Carson Show.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 26, 2020:

Hi Bill,

There are many stunning architectural beauties on the Island of Galveston. This church surely fits that description.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 26, 2020:

Stunning architecture! There are a few like it in Tacoma and Seattle, and I am always in awe of the craftsmanship.

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