91° 0 0

Rosenberg Treasure: Murdoch’s Bathhouse

Murdoch’s Bathhouse

Rosenberg Treasure of the Month

Last Updated: July 1, 2020 by Rosenberg Library | History


Murdoch’s Bathhouse has been a Galveston landmark since the late 19th century. During the month of July, Rosenberg Library will display several items related to this island institution. Among these will be historic photos, tickets, and other souvenirs.

The original Murdoch’s Bathhouse opened in Galveston during the late 19th century. Located directly on the beach near the foot of 23rd Street, Murdoch’s offered bathing suit rentals, changing rooms, and shower facilities. Because Galveston lacked a seawall at the time, the beachside structure was completely destroyed by the Great Storm of 1900.

Murdoch's Bathhouse
The original Murdoch’s Bath House was built directly on the beach along the Gulf of Mexico. It was completely destroyed by the storm of September 8, 1900. Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library
Tickets to Murdoch's Bathhouse
These membership passes were issued to bathers during Murdoch’s 1904 swim season. Gift of Doyle McDonald

By February 1901, proprietor George Murdoch had rebuilt the bathhouse at the same site. According to an interview with the Galveston Daily News in January 1901, Murdoch said that he believed Galveston’s recovery would be dependent upon its future as a tourist destination. Establishments such as his bathhouse attracted visitors to the island during the summer season and helped boost the local economy.

Unfortunately, just eight years later, another powerful hurricane struck the Gulf Coast and destroyed the bathhouse. In 1911, a new and improved Murdoch’s opened at a cost of $35,000 (nearly $1 million in today’s dollars). The bathhouse stood upon 160 10”x10” wood piles and was designed to withstand hurricanes. It featured 542 rooms with separate changing areas for men and women. A promenade deck on top of the building offered excellent views of the Gulf of Mexico and could accommodate up to 2,000 guests for special events.

This ca. 1917 postcard shows Murdoch’s after it was rebuilt following the hurricane of 1915. The facility was expanded and the floor height raised to 10 feet above the seawall. Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library

In addition, the bathhouse featured a life-saving station for emergencies.  This more substantial facility allowed for independent businesses to operate within Murdoch’s.  One such enterprise was a souvenir and gift shop managed by William Guyette, whose descendants became the owners of Murdoch’s bathhouse for several generations.  The first Gaido’s restaurant was also located inside Murdoch’s.

Sadly, the improved construction was not a match for the devastating hurricane that hit Galveston a few years later in 1915.  However, Murdoch’s was rebuilt once again in 1916, this time with its floor raised ten feet above the seawall.  The facility was expanded to accommodate 1,000 bathers.

Over the years, Murdoch’s evolved to meet the changing needs of its customers.  When bathing suit rentals and changing rooms were no longer in demand, Murdoch’s began selling refreshments, beach supplies, and tourist souvenirs.

The 1916 Murdoch’s bathhouse continued to stand strong until Hurricane Carla in 1961.  As with the previous storms, it was reconstructed.  Most recently, Murdoch’s was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008.   The Galveston landmark was rebuilt and reopened its doors to visitors once again.  The iconic structure is a symbol of Galveston’s resilience and willingness to weather storms for well over a century.  It remains a popular destination for island tourists.

Murdochs is located at 2215 Seawall Blvd and is home to the Galveston.com Murdochs Webcam.

Rosenberg Library

Rosenberg Library has offered over a century of community service to the Galveston area, and is the oldest public library in Texas in continuous operation. The building itself was dedicated on June 22, 1904, the birthday of its patron, Henry Rosenberg. The Moody Memorial Wing opened in 1971, more than doubling the floor space and allowing for a children’s library, a history center, several galleries to showcase museum collections, and later, a computer lab. The Library accepted its first museum piece shortly after it opened in 1904. Since then, thousands of rare and interesting objects from around the world have been added to the collection. Each month they display a “Treasure of the Month”. Learn more by visiting the Rosenberg Library page and the Gifts of Henry Rosenberg section.

2020-07-06T13:03:55-05:00

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

Hate to see you go. We’ve got lots coming up.

No event found!