Forget all the crazy rumors and stories youâ€™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 â€” and whatâ€™s about to happen to it â€” has at long last been revealed by the builderâ€™s daughter (and current owner), Mary Etheridge-Rachels, to Dallas-area writer Linda Armstrong.
Among the shocking revelations â€” well, okay, interesting facts â€” included in Armstrongâ€™s account of the steel bowlâ€™s history, pieced together from her interviews with Etheridge-Rachels:
- The home at 1410 Miramar Dr. in Galveston off the San Luis Pass was built by Clayton E. Stokley, a WWII veteran, talented welder, and shop foreman at Graver Tank & Manufacturing Co. in Pasadena, in the late 1960s. Stokley regularly took advantage of his firmâ€™s policy of offering steel products to its workers at cost.
- According to his daughter, Stokley built at least 3 other structures from Graver steel-tank parts and operated businesses in them: â€œa convenience and liquor store on Navigation Street [sic], a convenience store on Harrisburg, and a nightclub off 45 and highway 646.â€
- The Kettle House was originally intended to serve as a drive-up convenience and liquor store.
- The structure takes its shape from the leftover parts made available after Graver had constructed a large sphere for a client out of three-eighths-in.-thick steel. After the deal with the client fell through, Stokley bought it and took it apart.
- The parts were shipped to Galveston on an 18-wheeler, where Stokley, his children, wife, siblings, friends, and assorted relatives worked on weekends over several months to assemble the structure.
- The structure was designed to have an open floor plan suitable for a store, with a spiral staircase in the middle leading to a second floor living quarters for the store manager.
- Stokley suffered a stroke before the buildout could be completed, leaving the second level incomplete. He passed away in 2005.
- The original roof rusted and caved in, so Stokleyâ€™s family replaced it with a â€œtraditional, yet oddly shaped, composite roof.â€
- Additional work was completed after the roof was replaced: The second level was finished out with a living room, kitchenette, bathroom, water heater, and AC.Â Also: windows on the second level and a French door over the entrance.
- Among the uncompleted plans for the property considered by its current owner: an outdoor deck and stairs leading to the second-floor French doors.
- No one has ever lived in the house. â€œWe always saw the place as more of a project than somewhere to live or vacation,â€ Etheridge-Rachels tells Armstrong. â€œOne year I let some friends stay in it for the biker rally. But those are the only people that have ever stayed in it overnight.â€
- Vandals broke in recently and spray-painted the interior, so the Kettle House has now been boarded up.
Etheridge-Rachels now says sheâ€™s ready to sell the property — and already has a buyer.
- Galvestonâ€™s Kettle House: Legacy and Landmark [Galveston Kettle House]