The Lucas Apartment building is a unique structure with an interesting past. In 1887, Thomas Lucas, a bricklayer from Nottingham, England, designed and constructed a row of six attached houses located on Broadway and 6th street near the beach. Lucas Row, or Lucas Terrace as it was sometimes called, was destroyed in the great hurricane of 1900. The destruction of such a substantial structure was so significant that the City of Galveston chose to hold a remembrance ceremony on the one year anniversary of the storm at the site of Lucas Terrace.
Photograph of the Original Lucas Terrace
After the storm, Thomas Lucas picked up the bricks from the rubble and moved them to Broadway and 14th street where his own modest wood frame house miraculously survived. Between 1901 and 1906 he built, with little help, the East building of what is now know as the Lucas Apartments, the first brick apartment building in Texas. When the East building was finished, he moved his frame house to another lot on Broadway (it has since been torn down) and began construction on the West building. Between 1907 and 1908 he rapidly completed the West building and connected the two structures with an open breezeway.
Thomas worked without plans and similarities to the original Lucas Terrace, such as the curved staircases leading to covered porches, can be seen in his design. If you look closely, you can see that Thomas was not consistent in his work. Many of the windows have different treatments in the surrounding brick trim. The dimensions and elevations of the buildings are also slightly different. The house has ninety windows even after some have obviously been removed and bricked over. Thomas Lucas was 76 years old when he completed the work and died shortly afterwards from a fall while working on a smokestack he was erecting in Galveston. The Galveston Historical Foundation views the Lucas Apartments as one of the most visible and important properties in the East End Historic District. In a Victorian town, it is the only structure in the East End Historic District that suggests the Art Nouveau style. This is clearly evident in the facade of the building which is decorated with large shell and coral patterned cast concrete. Although they are often referred to as planters, they are merely ornamental. The structure was also load bearing brick with large beams running the length of the building. This was a construction technique usually reserved for larger commercial buildings. A unique building built by a pioneer artisan of Galveston, it is a remarkable example of individual enterprise. It stands at an important location on Broadway across from the Bishop’s Palace and the Sacred Heart Church.