The Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston
An Architectural and Social History
Architecture - Texas History
8.75 x 11, 186 pp.
122 b&w photos., 35 line art., 54 maps., 3 tables., 4-page foldout.
Pub Date: 04/05/2007
Sara and John Lindsey Series in the Arts and Humanities
Price:        $39.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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1997 Ottis Lock Award for the Best Book on East Texas History, presented by the East Texas Historical Association

The Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston

An Architectural and Social History

By Ellen Beasley

Alleys and back buildings have been largely overlooked in studies of the American urban environment. And yet, rental alley houses, servant and slave quarters, carriage houses, stables, and other secondary structures have lined the alleys and filled the backyards of Galveston since its early days as a growing port city on the upper Texas Gulf Coast.

Like their counterparts in other cities, these buildings and their inhabitants have had a profound visual, physical, and social impact on the history and development of Galveston.

Interweaving written documents, oral interviews, and pictorial images, Beasley presents a vivid picture of Galveston’s alleys and alley life from the founding of the city into the twentieth century. The book blends a unique combination of research, photography, and the voices of those who have lived and live along the alleys. Beasley has uncovered and analyzed a wealth of new information not only about the back buildings of Galveston but also about their occupants and the complex cultural forces at work in their lives.

Ellen Beasley is the co-author of the Galveston Architecture Guidebook. A preservationist and writer, she earned a Loeb Fellowship to the Harvard Graduate School of Design. A former resident of Galveston for sixteen years, she now lives in Houston.

What Readers Are Saying:

“This is an important addition to our knowledge and understanding of how cities developed. Its value to historians, preservationists and citizens alike reaches far beyond Galveston.”--Elizabeth A. Lyon, retired Georgia State Historic Preservation Officer and member, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Diversity Council

“What Beasley ultimately is able to convey is the importance of mundane places and structures; she is able to show how alleys, and the buildings that one can find there, make a contribution to the overall fabric of social experience. Beasley probes into the domain that lies just out of public sight, a place that both intrigues and threatens.” --John M. Vlach, George Washington University, author of Back of the Big Hou

“I applaud Ellen Beasley’s contribution to the growing collection of works that acknowledge the role of African American and immigrant Texans.” --Patricia Smith Prather, executive director, the Texas Trailblazer Preservatio

“Ellen Beasley illustrates a part of Galveston often missing in the rush of every day life.” --Galveston Daily News, December 17, 1996

Handsome, beautifully laid out, and full of intriguing images . . . carefully researched but lively format . . . This book is a wonderful television documentary waiting to happen. . . .” --Cite

“What a remarkable layer of information has been added to our sense of what comprises the history of a place. In The Alley and Back Buildings of Galveston our view of a city like Galveston is taken apart and rewoven by Ellen Beasley’s close visitation of the place. She makes apparent and gives richness to what could easily be overlooked.” --Mary Miss, artist

“A unique study of vernacular architecture and social history, the work focuses modern scholarship on a neglected side of urban life. Well illustrated with historic and contemporary photographs and a wide variety of maps, this book will appeal to the preservationist, architectural historian, and city planner. Adventuresome general readers will find it a compelling introduction to a little-known aspect of the urban experience.” --Choice

“Ellen Beasley’s book makes a significant contribution to this still nascent sphere of inquiry as well as to the broader one of working-class housing by integrating social and cultural facets with those of the built environment in an accomplished manner.” --American Studies International

”Beasley has an eye for neglected architecture and an ear for good stories. . . . The book is a visual treat . . .” --East Texas Historical Association


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