Forget all the crazy rumors and stories you’ve heard about the Galveston Kettle House. The actual most likely true story of how the unusual Galveston West Beach-area landmark known as the Kettle House came to be — and what’s about to happen to it — has at long last been revealed by the builder’s daughter (and current owner), Mary Etheridge-Rachels, to Dallas-area writer Linda Armstrong.
Among the shocking revelations — well, okay, interesting facts — included in Armstrong’s account of the steel bowl’s history, pieced together from her interviews with Etheridge-Rachels:
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Legends in Steel
STARTING IN JULY, YOU’LL ONLY NEED 2 BUS RIDES TO GET TO GALVESTON Since 2013, when the last regular bus service was canceled, taking a trip from Houston to Galveston on public transportation has been a bit of a challenge: It might take you 1 light-rail train ride, 4 buses, a 3-mile walk, and 4 hours. Thanks to a 2-year grant from TXDoT, support from Galveston County and Texas City, and an approval by Houston’s Metro Board today, it’s about to get a whole lot easier. Beginning July 10th, an Island Express route coordinated by the 2 cities’ transportation agencies will allow weekday service between the Downtown Transit Center in Houston and Island Transit’s Downtown Transit Terminal at 25th St. and the Strand in Galveston 3 times a day — with a transfer at the Bay Area Park & Ride — for $9. There’ll be a stop in Texas City, and bikes can ride too. Metro expects about 20 riders a day to use the service. [OffCite; Christof Spieler] Draft schedule for Island Express: Metro
The shot above captures the Saturday night scene along the Galveston seawall southwest of Stewart Beach, where bulldozers were pushing around the gush of sand and water being piped in as part of the latest round of beach building on the island. The crews were still at it around 9 pm; the shot below shows the Pleasure Pier over-water amusement park still lit up in the distance to the west:
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CREWS NOW PUMPING REPLACEMENT BEACH SAND ALONG GALVESTON SHORELINE The Galveston.com Sand Cam was pointed east yesterday morning to capture the action as work crews pumped a slurry of sand from the Big Reef area on the northern end of the barrier island onto the beaches along the seawall, as part of a $19.5 million project intended to add between 100 and 150 feet of beach back to the eroded shoreline. A few smaller sand-adding projects have taken place over the last few years, winning a nod from the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association; Kelly de Shaun of the Galveston Parks Board tells Harvey Rice that this round of sanding is proactive maintenance, unlike the sand trucked in back in 2009 after Hurricane Ike paid a visit to the island. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Galveston seawall: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool
STATE LEADERS LOOK TO BAN PROPOSED GALVESTON BAG BAN, STOP LOCAL CALIFORNIA-IZATION Members of Galveston’s city council expect to vote next year on a ban on plastic bags, writes Harvey Rice this week — and also expect the state government to try to overturn that ban, whether by lawsuit or through new legislation. Proponents of the ban note that the bags frequently make their way into the water around the island, where they may start new careers decorating the local beaches or killing birds and turtles that try to eat them. Rice notes that top members of the state government believe, however, that the bigger problem is Texas cities being “California-ized” (as governor Greg Abbott called it) by their own locally-developed rules; this include the 2014 Denton fracking ban that inspired a no-local-oil-and-gas-regulations-allowed law last session, invalidating dozens of older municipal ordinances around the state. Attorney general Ken Paxton has also sued Brownsville over a fee on retailer bag use, and supports the ongoing lawsuit that put the brakes on Laredo’s recent bag ban (which in turn caused Port Aransas to quietly stop enforcing its own ban, until the Texas supreme court weighs in). The Chronicle‘s editorial board also notes that state senator Bob Hall from Edgewood in Northwest Houston has already filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session aimed at eliminating all local bag rules. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Galveston seagulls: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool
Atop the retail-harboring ground floor of this 1878 building now for sale in Galveston is a living space — or several, the listing suggests, if you’re willing to get creative. The 2-story mixed-use RF Martin & Company building at the southeast corner of 25th and Market streets (a few blocks south of the Strand, and of the Galveston Ship Channel cruise terminals) went up for sale early last week. The asking price is currently set at $1.4 million — though the listing says that can be offset by income from the street-level tenants (currently including eclectic cafe Eatcetera and stationary station Betsy by Design), or a potential conversion of the space into condos or a boutique hotel.
Here’s the view from Market St.:
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Market St. Market
NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATIONISTS TO GATHER IN HOUSTON, GAWK AT ASTRODOME The National Trust for Historic Preservation — that’d be the folks that coined the ‘orgy of irrational destruction’ line picked up by Save the Bungalows a few years back — is holding its annual conference in Houston for the first time, starting next Tuesday. Current president Stephanie Meeks cites the city’s “compelling preservation story,” amid a regional lack of preservation-minded rules and regulations, as a reason for picking the city. Planned field trip locales include the Astrodome (currently getting ready for that basement parking garage remodel), as well as Mission Control, the artsifying warehouses and industrial facilities around Washington Ave., and a handful of Galveston historic districts. Also on the docket: the debut of the organization’s Atlas of ReUrbanism (a digital collection of built environment data aimed public officials, reporters, and other city data scavengers), for which Houston is one of 5 starter cities. Would-be attendees can catch some conference sessions next Tuesday through Friday in the neighborhood of the newly-game-faced George R. Brown Convention Center; those who don’t want to make the trip downtown can watch some sessions at home. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Astrodome: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool