The festive arches gracing Galveston's historic Strand District are part of an imaginative civic design project undertaken in 1985 and based on temporary decorative arches constructed in 1881, when the City of Galveston hosted Saengerfest, a biennial singing contest sponsored by German immigrant choral societies around the state of Texas. Sponsors: George and Cynthia Mitchell
In 1985, Galveston-born oilman and developer George Mitchell and his wife Cynthia commissioned seven noted architects - Eugene Aubry, Michael Graves, Helmut Jahn, Charles Moore, Cesar Peili, Boone Powell and Stanley Tigerman - each to design a "fantasy arch" for Galveston.
The "fantasy arches" were conceived to be a dramatic part of the city's 1986 Mardi Gras celebration, as well as a salute to the Texas Sesquicentennial.
The Powell arch at 24th and Mechanic is a breezy, colorful structure of mast, rigging and pennants, suggestive of the sailing ships that called on Galveston during its glory days as a major seaport.
The structure is crowned by a double arch and an exaggerated oculus — both direct references to master Galveston architect Nicholas Clayton.
At night, "Tivoli" lights in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, yellow and green trace the outline of the design, adding a carnivalesque air.
Boone Powell, a partner in the San
Antonio firm of Ford, Powell & Carson and a noted authority on preservation and rejuvenation of buildings and cities, designed the restoration of Galveston's historic 1879 Tremont House hotel and 1871 T. Jeff League Building, which houses The Wentletrap restaurant.
His other major projects include the campus master plan and 19 major buildings for Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs., New York; Tower of the Americas, San Antonio; and Galveston's Pier 21 development.
An exhibition of architectural renderings, photographs and models of the Galveston arch project was displayed at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design, from October 1987 through January 1988.
Concept/Coordination: Dancie Perugini Ware
City of Galveston: Douglas W. Matthews, City Manager
Project Consultant: Michael Gaertner