There are few attractions that rival the Moody Mansion in capturing Galveston’s unique cultural heritage. Located in Galveston, Texas, the mansion has been a renowned landmark for decades. In visiting the Moody Mansion, visitors can get a sense of turn of the century life in Galveston through the artifacts, furnishings, and biographies of the Moody family.
While the house itself was built in 1895, it became associated with the Moody family in the fall of 1900, when W.L. Moody, Jr. bought the property for his growing family. The timing of the purchase was particularly surprising as it took place after a major hurricane, which saw almost half of Galveston demolished and abandoned. Despite this, W.L. Moody, Jr. went ahead with the deal, believing Galveston would once again regain its place as the thriving metropolitan town it had been prior to the catastrophe. The Moody family moved into their new home in 1900 and the mansion remained the family’s place of residence until 1986.
The Moody Mansion was originally owned by Narcissa Willis and was designed by the English architect William Tyndall. The building stands four stories tall, contains a total of 20 rooms, and spans 28,000 square feet. The interior was originally furnished by a well-known New York City-based design group called Pottier and Stymus Company. W.L. Moody, Jr., like his father, W.L Moody, was a very successful merchant and financier. Over the course of his career, he was also involved in ranching, publishing, hotel development, and insurance. W.L. Moody, Jr. and his wife Libby lived at the Moody Mansion with their four children: Mary, William, Shearn, and Libby. Mary Moody devoted her life to maintaining the family businesses, her philanthropic efforts, and their legacy. Today her efforts live on by way of the Moody Foundation and the Mary Moody Northen Endowment, which provides important contributions to the fields of historic preservation, health care, education, and the arts.
The two main floors of the mansion are open to the public and host a range of exhibits throughout the year. All the furnishings on display once belonged to the Moody family, making them of considerable interest to local history buffs. Those with a keen eye for design will appreciate the various styles of furnishings on display, which include French Rococo and Classic Revival.
The Mary’s Gallery area of the mansion hosts a variety of exhibitions, which change throughout the year to reflect the changing seasons as well as various aspects of the Moody family legacy. Recently, Mary Moody Northen’s collection of Native American artifacts was on display there. This exhibition featured kachina dolls, jewelry, baskets, and pottery.
The garage is currently home to an exhibit titled Auto Fever. It discusses the history and impact of the automobile in the United States. Visitors can learn about the rise of the automobile in American culture by examining the Moody’s own vehicles, including Mary Moody’s 1930s Studebaker.
Visitors with young children can enrich their experience by visiting the Galveston Children’s Museum, located on the ground floor of the Moody Mansion. There, children can enjoy a variety of hands-on activities during their visit to the mansion.
Those planning a trip to the Moody mansion are advised to check the website for upcoming and current exhibitions.
The Moody Mansion has three types of tours for visitors. For those who prefer to tour at their own pace, the Moody Mansion offers two audio tours; the Moody Family Tour allows visitors to hear first-hand accounts of the Moody family lineage through the original testimony of six members of the family. The second audio tour is called Mary’s Tour, as it is narrated by an actress playing a younger version of Mary Moody Northen. In addition to the audio tours, the mansion offers a Guided Legacy tour, where participants can gain access to areas of the mansion that are typically closed to public viewing. This tour gives visitors a more intimate and interactive experience as it is led by a museum guide who is well versed in Mary Moody’s collections and rationale for preserving her family’s history. The variety of touring options make it easy for visitors to learn about Galveston’s history and the impact the Moody family had on the town.
In addition to the Moody Mansion, the family also established the Moody Gardens, which is located only a 15-minute drive from the mansion. This spectacular attraction has much to offer visitors of all ages. An aquarium, a 3D movie theatre, and a water park are just a handful of the attractions on offer there.
2618 Broadway Avenue J, Galveston, TX 77550, website, Phone: 409-762-7668
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