Two of over 200 historical markers on the island, these two markers are located at the 1871 Thomas Jefferson League Building.
“Thomas Jefferson League (1834-74) had this building constructed in 1871, putting the final touches on the structure when a new galvanized iron cornice was installed on October 8, 1872, after a storm damaged the new building at the corner of Tremont and the Strand. It was built on the site of the old “Moro Castle”, a fashionable public bar newly refurbished as the Cohn Brothers clothing emporium when it was set on fire during a robbery on December 3, 1869, resulting in the destruction of a large portion of the central business district of that time. League was an attorney and also the son-in-law of Samuel May Williams, one of the leading statesmen of the Texas Republic, a founder of the city of Galveston, a wharf developer and a banker.”
“The architectural style of the building is Renaissance Revival. Original iron fronts on the League Building were cast by the Southern Ornamental Iron Works of New Orleans. The second and third floors are of Houston brick, and originally the structure was crowned with a galvanized iron cornice.”
“The building was originally divided into three stores occupied by: I. Bernstein & Co., clothiers, with the entire corner, three stories, “in the most splendid clothing store in the South”; Robinson & Co., stationery and printing; and Woston, Wells & Vidor, cotton factors and commission merchants. In 1884, the firm of S. Jacobs, Bernheim & Co., wholesale clothing dealers and manufacturers, occupied the entire building. In 1893, this firm was replaced by several smaller concerns, including the Pacific Express Company and Island City Manufacturers, also clothing manufacturers, as well as the office of the building’s owner at that time – brother to the original builder – who listed himself simply as “J.C. League, Capitalist”. In 1921, the entire building was occupied by Ben Blum & Co., a wholesale hardware outlet, which continued in business in the building until 1972.”
“In 1973, the Galveston Historical Foundation purchased the building through its Strand Revolving Fund. In 1976, the building was sold with preservation deed restrictions to George and Cynthia Mitchell for development as a restaurant and shops on the first floor, and offices on the upper floors. The restoration of the exterior has been assisted by a grant from the Texas Historical Commission.”
“The Strand, known as “Wall Street of the Southwest,” served as the central business district of early Galveston. A fire, set in 1869 to cover a robbery at Cohn Brothers, a clothing emporium, burned a mile wide area. It began at this site, once occupied by Moro Castle, a fashionable bar and meeting place of famous people.
Thomas Jefferson League (1834-1874), began construction of this building in 1871. League, son of a prominent pioneer family, was an attorney and later a judge. He contracted with local craftsmen to erect this commercial building with a decorative cast iron first floor facade and a galvanized iron cornice.
Originally the three-story structure housed three stores: Isaac Bernstein & Company, a leading clothier; a stationer and bookseller; and a cotton factor and commission merchant. Later tenants were attorneys, insurance agents, and clothing manufacturers.
In 1921, Ben Sass joined Aaron P. Levy in purchasing this property and buying Ben Blum Hardware Co. They moved the business into this facility in 1923, where it remained 50 years. After the deaths of Aaron P. Levy (1929) and Ben Sass (1935), the building and the business were purchased by Joseph Levy Rosenfield and other Levy family members. The Levys remained owners until 1973.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark – 1979”