The residence was built by Narcissa Willis who had asked her husband for years to replace their home with a more opulent one. Her husband refused as he wanted to leave their money as an inheritance for their 10 children. Upon his death in 1892, Narcissa proceeded to demolish their home and have this one built on the same lot, sparing no expense in its design and construction. The cost to build the home was approximately $125,000 (equivalent to about $3M today). Narcissa's decision to spend the family's wealth on this home caused her to be estranged from all of the children. None of them ever visited the house. When Narcissa died in 1899, her daughter promptly put the house up for sale.
The storm of 1900 devastated much of the city of Galveston and 6,000 people died in one weekend, the largest natural disaster in the history of the U.S. The mansion, however, still stood (with some damage). Most of the potential buyers of the house withdrew their bids. William and Libbie Moody purchased it for $20,000 and moved into in it with their four children that year. Moody was a financier and entrepreneur in the cotton business. The family resided in the house until 1986.
A guided tour of 20 (of the 31) rooms in the mansion starts at the visitor center where three of the Moody's antique cars are on display.
When formal parties (debutante ball, daughter's wedding, etc.) were held at the mansion, guests would use this driveway to drop off guests under the pergola.
The windows at the top of the stairs could be opened (into the wall above them) for guests to be enter directly into the ballroom. Otherwise, guests would enter through the lovely double doors at the front of the house.
In addition to the 31 rooms in the mansion, there are 5 balconies at the front of the house.
The beautiful tile floors were damaged during the various hurricanes in the region. When restoration work began, it was discovered that the same company who had supplied them in 1893 where still in business. Better yet, they were still manufacturing tiles of the exact same design! So original design exists today.
Our tour guide was very informative and provided interesting insights into the mansion and those who lived in it. The first floor was where the kitchen, laundry room, and servants quarters were located. The tour covered the second and third floors.
Unfortunately, no photos are permitted inside the mansion.
The formal rooms (where guests were permitted) were on the second floor and included a large entryway, a very opulent parlor in 18th century French style, the library, ballroom, and dining room. The fireplaces throughout the mansion are just beautiful The remainder of the 2nd floor (the living room, pantry, and children's dining room) were closed off by pocket doors in the entryway. Also, there is a stunningly beautiful stained glass window in the stairwell that can be seen from the entryway.
The third floor has the master bedroom suite as well as bedrooms for each of the four children. The fourth floor had guest bedrooms and an auditorium.
I really enjoyed seeing this historic mansion. It is quite spectacular and has an interesting history. $10M has been spent in restoration efforts due to the hurricanes that have occurred in the last century in Galveston. This work was funded by the Moody Foundation.
Tours cost $10/adults and $8/seniors. The mansion is open from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm and tours frequently get sold out this time of year. There are three tours a day (11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm) weekdays and tours every hour on weekends.
Check out their website for additional information.