The flamboyant octagonal Garten Verein (Garden
Club) was the center of 19th-century refined social
life in Galveston. Lit at night like a fairy lantern,
dancing couples would swirl within as German
waitresses served beer steins and sandwiches.
Built by Galveston's prosperous German
community — but open to anyone who could
afford the modest membership — the whimsically
designed Victorian pavilion flew the flags of all
nations, and sported a bowling green, exotically
landscaped park, croquet grounds, an ornate
fountain, and even a genteel zoo.
businessman Stanley Kempner bought the site in
1923 and donated it to the city as a public park
dedicated to his parents.
In 1998, the Kempner
Fund provided a $1 million restoration grant for
the fanciful pavilion.
Not open for touring,
although it is available for private parties.