30th Street Water and Electric Light Station
Architect: The LaBiche Architectural Group, Inc.
Posted: September 1, 2020 | Projects
The red brick “Galveston Water and Electric Light Station” was built in 1904 atop the buff limestone foundations of the earlier 1889 pump station that was destroyed in the 1900 hurricane. Designed by prominent Galveston architect Charles William Bulger (1851-1922), the monumental arched wood windows and elaborate pressed metal cornice recalled the baths of ancient Rome — a fitting metaphor for the building that was the center for Galveston’s public water distribution system for over a century.
Photo Courtesy of Angie LaBiche
The City of Galveston and the Texas General Land Office, with historic preservation architect Dohn H. LaBiche of The LaBiche Architectural Group, and partial funding under the Texas Disaster Recovery program, rehabilitated the Pump Station as a 6,800-square-foot community center for the rapidly expanding surrounding neighborhoods. Elements of the original pump station equipment, signage, and hardware are on display to inform visitors about the building’s history. One of the original 1889 water tanks, east of the building, also remains.
A native of Indiana, Charles William Bulger practiced architecture in Kansas and Colorado before moving to Galveston in 1891, where he designed many commercial and residential buildings, over a dozen of which still survive. He moved to Dallas in 1904 and, with his son Clarence as a partner in the architectural practice, built high-rise commercial structures and over sixty churches in the North Texas region. Two of his churches, in Dallas and Texarkana, served as models for the reconstruction of the Bulger’s idiosyncratic Ionic cornice and entrance pediment that have been fabricated in long-lasting fiberglass. This iconic building will serve the citizens of Galveston as a meeting, party and wedding venue.
The mortar joints on the exterior of the building were completely tuck pointed, and broken bricks were replaced with original bricks harvested from the rear wall of the building. Building cornices and pediments were originally made of sheet metal and, through the years, deteriorated due to exposure to the salt air from the Gulf of Mexico. They were replaced with fiberglass replicas cast from another Bulger building to keep the original style intact. The broken limestone on walls and entry stairs were replaced with Texas white limestone to match the originals.
This building originally contained two rooms: one for the electric generator, and the other for the water pumps. The main meeting room is surrounded by thirteen-foot-tall original double-hung wood windows and large cypress doors, which were removed, cleaned to bare wood, and repainted in the original 1904 color scheme. The floor contained pits which housed the water pumps that supplied Galveston with drinking water until the 2000s. The pits were filled and a new slab poured over the old openings. The interior color scheme is from renovations done to the building in the 1930s.
One of the highlights of the restoration is the installation of a glass panel floor over the old water pump wells, which will allow visitors to walk over and view the building’s historic water pumps. The rear room was converted into a catering corridor, public restrooms, and a smaller meeting room. A mezzanine was created over the restrooms for the new mechanical room.
The restoration of the Water and Electric Pump Station into a 6,800-square-foot community meeting center serves to provide a public focus point for a historical neighborhood currently being revitalized.
Building Envelope: ACME Brick
Interior: Sherwin Williams, Wilsonart, Schulter Start Quartz
Roofing: Landmark Shingles
Entrances & Storefronts, Windows: Historic Original (1908)
The LaBiche Architectural Group, Inc.
7999 Gladys Avenue, #101
Beaumont, TX 77706
AWC – Arceneaux, Wilson & Cole
2901 Turtle Creek Drive, #320
Port Arthur, TX 77642
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
7999 Gladys Avenue, #101B
Beaumont, TX 77706
Ardent Construction, LLC
133 N. Friendswood Drive, #300
Friendswood, TX 77546
Historic Preservation Consultant
Source Historical Services
1201 Avenue M
Galveston, TX 77553
Roofing & Building Envelope Consultant
11800 Highland Oaks Trial
Austin, TX 78759
Date Bid: May 2018
Construction Period: Oct 2018 to Jun 2020
Total Square Feet: 6,812
Site: 0.75 acres.
Number of Buildings: One.
Building Sizes: First floor, 5,692; second floor, 1,120; total, 6,812 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 32′; floor to floor, 12′; total, 32′.
Basic Construction Type: Historic Remediation.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, pier & grade beam, reinforced, slab-on-grade.
Exterior Walls: Brick.
Roof: Modified bitumen, asphalt shingles.
Floors: Concrete, wood.
Interior Walls: CMU, metal stud drywall.