28,000 square feet of mystery - the Moody Mansion oozes character. The one-of-a-kind building stood through a hurricane that virtually wiped Galveston off the map, but is it haunted?
Built 1895 for Narcissa Willis, the Moody Mansion was, first, the Willis Mansion. Narcissa had actually wanted the house much sooner.
A Galveston socialite, Narcissa always wanted a sizable, stately home to impress her ever-growing social sphere. Her husband, Richard, controlled the purse strings.
Richard had been a prosperous cotton broker who could afford the mansion. Unlike Narcissa, Richard preferred to keep his assets liquid. Cash was easier to inherit than property, especially whenever you were dividing it amongst ten children.
Regrettably, the Willis children would never receive their inheritance: Richard died in 1892, and Narcissa funneled his fortune into the then-Willis Mansion against her late husband’s wishes.
Narcissa commissioned the home within a year of his death. For this, Narcissa was estranged from her family - her children never even visited the home. She thought that the extravagance of the estate would encourage her children to bury the hatchet.
Avoided, abhorred, and alienated from her offspring, Narcissa remained in the Moody Mansion. Outside of the housekeeper, Narcissa was the estate’s only occupant.
Narcissa’s sad isolation was at least short-lived. Narcissa died in 1899, and her daughter, Beatrice, put the Moody Mansion for sale.
While there have been no specific hauntings, guests have overheard disembodied voices alongside unidentified footsteps. Perhaps Narcissa still considers the Moody Mansion her own?
The most common phenomenon appears within photographs: pictures that are taken at the site often reveal unaccountable
guests are blurred or otherwise indistinct, leading some to believe that they’re apparitions.
Spirit photography is particularly popular at the Moody Mansion. Visitors have even sworn to see faces appear in their pictures. Are these portraits of the paranormal – or something else?
In 1900, a hurricane swept through Galveston, nearly destroying the entire city. The Moody Mansion stood strong,but over 6,000 Texans died. Perhaps some of their spirits wandered to the Moody Mansion...and never left.
Haunted or not, the unearthly appearance of the property is peerlessly matched, foreboding and phantom-like. It’s sure to spook the skeptic and superstitious alike. Plus, your camera may catch what the naked eye couldn’t.
Libbie Moody convinced her husband William to enter a bid on the mansion. Theirs was just one of many bids, but after the 1900 hurricane, most of the other bidders withdrew.
The home had been valued at around $100,000, but the Moodys acquired it for just $20,000.
Libbie and William’s tenure at the Moody Mansion was pretty unremarkable. They had a quiet, successful existence. Members of the Moody Family remained in the house until 1986, with the last resident being William and Libbie’s daughter Mary.
The only scandal that involved the Moody family occurred when William left everything to Mary, cutting his other children out of his will. Even that was resolved with quiet dignity.
William Moody died in 1954, and flags across Texas were flown at half mast. The respect he garnered from his fellow Texans was a testament to his upstanding character.
William Moody had his fingers in every pie imaginable: cotton, banking, land, ranching, insurance, publishing, hotels. If anyone had a Midas Touch, it was William.
Libbie was actually worried that her husband was working himself to death. His reply? Check it out:
Do not worry about me, for my capacity for work seems endless, and I really enjoy it. It is just like playing cards, and succeeding is winning
The Moody name lives on in the form of the Moody Foundation, set up by William and Libbie in 1942.
The Moody Foundation funds programs involving social services, children’s needs, community development, and education. Buildings on campus at SMU in Dallas and University of Houston bear the Moody name as a result of the foundation’s contributions.
Their enterprise, and
empire, was so esteemed in Galveston that the Moody Mansion became the Moody Museum in 1986. The museum commemorated the achievements of the family while preserving the historic home.
This Romanesque 31-room mansion was designed by the architect William H. Tyndall. It features stained glass windows, hand-carved woodwork, and rounded arches among brick walls and limestone dressing.
Tyndall designed the estate specifically to Narcissa’s tastes, which may explain its singularity. Tyndall likewise utilized cross-culture features, making the Moody Mansion difficult to categorize or classify.
Anachronistic, extravagant, eclectic – the Moody Mansion is one-of-a-kind. The Moody Mansion was also considered the first in Texas to be built on a steel frame.
The mansion’s interiors were designed by the New York Firm of Pottier, Stymus, and Company, who likewise worked for Thomas Edison, William Rockefeller, and President Ulysses S. Grant.
All 31 rooms reflect popular turn-of-the-century themes, perfect for any aging socialite. Furnished with collectibles from the Moody Estate, they make for a strikingly sophisticated setup.
The Moody Mansion was damaged in 2008 by Hurricane Ike, which flooded the basement while devastating the kitchen, servants’ quarters, and potting room.
Luckily, the City of Galveston was able to save the basement and later convert it to the Galveston’s Children’s Museum. Hurricanes continue to shape or shift the history of the Moody Mansion, yet the Moody Mansion remains.
The Moody Mansion Museum was opened to the public in 1991, though it set out to recreate the personality of the property from 1911. Special effect lighting was likewise installed to emphasize the exhibits, which depict the daily ongoings of the Moody Family.
Family papers and photographs are on display amidst period interiors, allowing for an interactive, immersive experience.
The Moody Mansion’s archive is also available to scholars for study. At 1,500 feet of linear material, it’s a remarkable collection of turn-of-the-century paraphernalia.
The archive includes – but is not limited to – familial documents, architectural blueprints, postcards, catalogs, and trade cards.
Only twenty of the mansion’s thirty-one rooms are available for tours. Events, as well as art exhibits, are additionally held at the Moody Mansion.
The Moody Mansion likewise acts as a venue for parties, weddings, and meetings. Bolder brides will love this haunted house. Bewitching banquets, spooky soirees… The Moody Mansion will keep your company captivated. (It’s beautiful to boot.)
The Moody Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 13, 1994.
You can find the Moody Mansion at 2618 Broadway Avenue J in Galveston, Texas. Guided tours are available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 to 5. You’re sure to love this spooky, sprawling estate. Oh, and do let us know if you encounter any paranormal activity.