The Galveston Daily News, Sunday, May 17, 1908
The Lucas Terraces in Two Chapters
This city has many examples of Longfellow’s lines –
“Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for and fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing –
Learn to labor and to wait,”
but none more forcible in illustration than the Lucas Terraces pictured above. The material in this handsome apartment house is the same which formed the Lucas Terraces destroyed in September of 1900. When the cataclysm left the terraces of that year a mass of brick and timber wreckage, Mr. Lucas, owner and builder of same, looked upon the destruction of his property with sorrow, but with no thought of despair or discouragement. The wreckage cleared he began immediately cleaning the brick, that he might rebuild another such apartment house with what could be saved. This was no light task as Mr. Lucas, brick layer by trade, could not command others to do his work, but with his own hands set willingly about this task, which might have discouraged a younger man as this gentleman is in his 77th year of age. The material, when ready; was carried from the original terrace site on Broadway and the beach to Mr. Lucas’ cottage residence, on Broadway and Fourteenth street, where he proposed to erect his second building. The bricks piled in the street were an obstruction to the thoroughfare, and an order was given that these be removed. Again theses were lifted, and this time placed on the cottage ground, to await the old gentleman’s time and money for rebuilding. Mr. Lucas asked no advice as to what he should erect, but as he had owned terraces before, this is what he determined he should have again. Brick walls are never prepossessing in erection, and idlers who had little to do but express opinions made many adverse criticisms as the work progressed. These comments did not trouble the builder, as he knew what he wanted, and kept on till he had it. The erection of the first of these terraces went slowly , fully six years in completion, as Mr. Lucas had other work to do which meant money to him, even though his cherished work had to wait his time. Last summer the terrace to the left of the picture was completed, and it was then that the owner-builder could express just pride in his work. He invited his friends in to see for themselves his neat and attractive building. These rejoiced with him, but it was the old gentleman himself – he who had done the major portions of the work – who rejoiced most. One building finished and rent coming in made the possibility of the second house a quick realization. The frame cottage on the ground to the right of the terrace was moved off that the foundation for the second work might begin. The little cottage, one of the landmarks of the city, being the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lucas, meant also a moving of the household goods and chattels. Nothing, however, disturbed his purpose. He moved with his humble home and began living in a new neighborhood cheerfully, that the terrace might be completed. Weather had no power on his indomitable will. The hottest days found him working faithfully to the end that this spring, finds a completed building. It was a glad day when this photo was taken, as it meant that all could see now what he had had in his mind’s eye even when cleaning the brick in a heap of storm wreckage. On this picture-making occasion he laid by his working clothes, and in his Sunday best, with his wife by his side, found the camera moment a crowning one after years of labor.
The Terraces Today.
This neat and substantial building is not alone a matter of pride to the owner but is likewise a vast improvement for the block where it is located. These terraces form two separate three-story brick and stucco-covered apartment houses, each of fourteen rooms. The basements are finished throughout in light oak with concrete flooring. The woodwork of the reception floor and bedroom suite is in white. The walls are of plaster, delicately tinted. Electric lights and all modern conveniences, sanitary plumbing and neat fixtures are installed. The houses are joined-together by iron rods, yet are entirely distinct and separate, one from the other, and maintain the same privacy a single dwelling house would The galleries between the two houses are arched and run the entire length of the house on both first and second floors. These galleries are separated by a wood partition made ornate with wrought iron grill work. The keystones are of stone and the finishings of the exterior are in red tiling. The houses are strictly modern English in design, and in the drawing and specifications for same Mr. Lucas was his own architect. Each house has a garden plot with concrete curbing. A wide flag sidewalk is laid and the area-way and entrance walk is paved in tiling of red and black. Two stable are erected, one in the rear of each house. These are also of brick, with stucco covering. Attractive window boxes for flowers give a pleasing appearance to all the terrace windows facing on Broadway. The cost of the terraces, irrespective of the work of the owner and the material saved from the original terraces is $17,000. Three families are now occupying same. The terrace to the left of the picture is occupied by Mr. John C. Wenman. The baby in the picture, whose laughter may well make the old bricks forget the cries of other days, is Master J. C. Wenman Jr. The terrace to the left is rented by Capt. J. W. Munn and Mr. Andrew Bradford. The auto in the picture is Capt. Munn’s well known car. Mrs. Munn’s pet bulldog Togo occupies the rear seat of the auto, and Miss Dorothy Nichols is in the front. By the side of this group picture so bright and attractive, arises another which the same bricks once made. This is best told in what may be called.
The Story of Yesterday
The original terraces at the foot of Broadway faced the gulf water, and every afternoon of that pleasant summer of 1900 the families residing there would enjoy a run to the shore for a plunge in the surf. Nine or ten families resided in those terraces, and as the building itself was so neat and the life about so attractive the conditions for residence there were ideal. The salt cedars at that end of the beach were many, and their touch of green lent the necessary foliage to the scene. The wild red daisies were a carpet over the clean, white sand, and nature offered all that was prettiest at that end of the beach. As lightest hearts often bear the heaviest mourning, it is this bright picture which today comes with darkest setting. Pens might picture the scene of Lucas Terraces when the waters were blue and the sun bright, but the brain of man cannot give the dark picture in its true colors. One sunrise saw a substantial building, the home of many happy families. The next sunrise was this same building nothing more than a heap of broken bricks and splintered timber. The sun saw not the families of the previous dawn, for many of these were buried beneath the bricks, and the sun recognized not those who were rescued, for horror and grief had altered these countenances in that on awful night. Time, the healer, cures all wounds, and teaches the heart to forget the pain, if not the loss. So today the same old brick in making homes will hear more words of love, see more death scenes and shelter more generations. The acts of heroism which were performed when these bricks were baptized in blood will not be forgotten however. The sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts, and all that was grief and privation in 1900 is today a guide. Two faces arise from the memory of these bricks when falling, which instead of making a sorry heart today make a better on for the example these gave. One face was that of a woman, who on pleasant afternoons could be seen by the side of the wheel chair in which her paralyzed husband spent his days. When wind and water caused each resident of the terrace to rush from the room for apparent safety, this woman is seen making no effort to leave the invalid’s chair, but instead is remembered throwing her arms over the sufferer that the falling bricks might not hurt the one she loved and guarded. Death came to theses, and even the waters were cruel in that they took one body out to the sea and left the other to the wreckage. The second picture the old bricks give is that of a small boy of 14 years who as sole protector for his mother and sisters was a youthful Galahad, seeking life for those about him, unmindful of self. He succeeded not in his quest of life, but those who remember him today find a living example in his deeds. Thus the old bricks give their lessons for others to learn.
However, neither the terraces of today nor yesterday should make the whole of this story, as Mr. Thomas Lucas is the stuff of which the best stories are made. This old gentleman well deserves whatever good come his way. He was born in Nottingham England, in the year 1830 and spending his young days in England and South America came to Galveston Jan 6, 1867, and has resided here ever since. All of these years he has spent as a hard-working man, earning a little and saving a little. The six workdays find Mr. Lucas in his overalls busy at his trade. On Sundays he may be seen in his good clothes and high silk hat walking with his wife to his church for both morning and evening services. Mr. Lucas well shows his character in the fact that though the terraces are completed (a labor of six years put aside) and his years nearing the three score and ten, which the Bible gives as the allotted years of man’s life, he does not look upon himself as an old man with a work completed. His years have been too actively spent to rust out, and instead he hopes to see them wear out in freedom for the mind. He has his dreams for the time when his manual labor will free him from obligations to be met. This dream is for travel, as the old gentleman is a student and does not anticipate old age in a chimney corner. Though nearing 80 years, he is looking forward to visiting the Nile, the Rhine and many of the spots made famous by history or literature. Labor has not given him leisure for travel, and it is thus he looks to the years ahead to grant him what his young years could not obtain.