A recipe from the famous Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas. And now a little history:
After the Great Storm of 1900—when a massive hurricane devastated Galveston, Texas - a group of prominent businessmen, dedicated to the economic recovery of the island, knew there was a desperate need of a luxury beachfront hotel to fill the void that was left when the Beach Hotel burned down in 1898.
At a cost of more than $1 million, the St. Louis firm of Mauran & Russell designed and built Hotel Galvez - a six-story Spanish Colonial Revival building named for Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish colonial governor who chartered the Texas Gulf Coast and for whom the city is named. When it opened in 1911, the luxury hotel offered 275 elegant guestrooms, some with private baths. In 1912, Hotel Monthly billed it as one of the "most richly furnished seaside hotels in America".
The public areas featured a barbershop, candy shop, drugstore, soda fountain and Gentleman's Bar & Grille. Roller chairs lined the front of the hotel for those wanting to take a trip along the famed Seawall Boulevard.
In 1918, Hotel Galvez hosted more than 400 guests each day, with room rates starting at $2 per night. In the 1920s, the first bathing beauty contests in the nation were held at the hotel, with future movie stars Joan Blondell and Dorothy Lamour as participants.
During the '20s and '30s, Hotel Galvez became known as the "Playground of the Southwest", as hundreds of celebrities and dignitaries stayed there. Notable guests included Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy, as well as General Douglas MacArthur, Phil Harris, Alice Faye, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart and Howard Hughes.
On October 3, 1940, W.L. Moody Jr. acquired Hotel Galvez. During World War II, the hotel served as a living and working facility for the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1950, Moody's hotel chain, National Affiliated Hotels, added a motel on the east side of the main building.
In 1965, the owners spent more than $1 million to refurbish the hotel. Another million-dollar-plus renovation was undertaken by the next owners, Harvey O. McCarthy and Dr. Leon Bromberg, who acquired the hotel in 1971.
Hotel Galvez changed hands again in 1978, when it was purchased by well-known heart surgeon Denton Cooley, who had a long-standing sentimental attachment to it. Not only had he stayed there as a child and medical student, but his parents spent their wedding night at the hotel in 1916. Cooley sold half of his interest to Archie Bennett Jr., president of the Mariner Corporation.
In 1980, the partners spent one year and more than $12 million renovating the hotel, after which it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
The most recent renovation was brought about through the efforts of Galveston preservationists and developers George and Cynthia Mitchell, who attained ownership of Hotel Galvez in March of 1993. Since June 1, 1998, Wyndham International as Wyndham Historic Hotels has managed the hotel.
Today, Hotel Galvez stands proudly as "Queen of the Gulf", fully restored to its original glamour while continuing to offer gracious hospitality, old-world charm and new-world conveniences.
Adapted from the cookbook Recipes from Historic America by Linda and Steve Bauer.