History of The Grand
The Grand has a very special place in the history of our community and in the lives of many of our residents. It survived the storms of 1900 and 1915, and Hurricanes Carla and Alicia, as well as years of neglect at various times throughout its history. Of these events, the greatest threat to its survival was the 1900 storm, and it remains a testament to the determination of the people of Galveston that The Grand was quickly repaired and reopened.
The Grand is one of the few remaining theatres of its era in Texas and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As further recognition of its importance to the citizens of Texas, in 1993 the 73rd Texas Legislature proclaimed The Grand “The Official Opera House of Texas“.
Galvestonians exhibited great vision in 1894 when they undertook to support the arts in Galveston by construction of The Grand. A later generation of Galvestonians renewed that commitment with equal vision when they undertook to save and restore The Grand in 1974.
In 1894, Henry Greenwall raised the needed funds of $100,000 for construction with substantial commitments from a handful of prominent businessmen and civic-minded Galvestonians. When $8 million was raised for the Grand’s restoration between 1974 and 1990, it was a remarkable community effort which included the volunteer efforts of literally thousands of residents from Galveston county, the greater Houston area and the state of Texas.
Support came from individuals, the business and corporate community, local government and, of course, included generous foundation support from around the state and nation. Chief among these were the generous leadership gifts of the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, The Moody Foundation, Houston Endowment and the subsequent gifts of George and Cynthia Mitchell to help complete the restoration.
Due to the foresight and generosity of several generations of Galvestonians, The Grand stands today as an important linkage to our past and an important part of our future.