Ike and Momentum Level Murdoch's in Galveston

Staff | September 28, 2010

Murdoch's, that iconic gift shop with the dark blue seahorse designs on the Galveston beach, met its destiny in Hurricane Ike last September. Damage to the light blue wooden structure built on piers was beyond repair, causing owners to have the building demolished.

Momentum Environmental, officed in the Galveston area, performed the deed on January 13 and 14. Their Link Belt 330 LX excavator made short work of the badly damaged structure, pulling it down and piling the debris along the seawall in about three hours, according to project manager Bill Doherty. It took about a day longer for the excavator to pull up the pilings.


Murdoch's Bathhouse is one of Galveston's most historic locations. Their website at www.murdochspier.com describes their history. The original wood structure, built in the late 1800s, was constructed directly on the sand. Without the protection of a seawall, the 1900 storm destroyed the bathhouse. Although the structure was rebuilt in 1901, the storms of 1909 and 1915 were so violent that reconstruction was required after each.

When Murdoch's reopened in 1910, it had 542 rooms — 251 for women and 291 for men. The cost at the time to rent the bathroom services was 25 cents. In 1910, Mr. William J. Guyette Sr. opened Guyette Gift Shop inside Murdoch's. He knew that with so many visitors coming to Galveston Island, a shop that offered these visitors souvenirs, shells and trinkets would be a great idea. That same year, Gaido's Seafood restaurant was also opened inside Murdoch's Bathhouse.

In 1961, Hurricane Carla destroyed the bathhouse yet again. Reconstruction that time replaced the grand bathhouse with the two oblong wood structures, built several steps above the seawall and carried out over the Gulf of Mexico on wood pilings.

In 2005, the family connected the existing piers with a breezeway and porch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Since the state of Texas will not allow any more piers to be built, it stood on some of the original piling that once held Murdoch's Bathhouse.

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike once again destroyed Murdoch's. The owners, Jim and Suzanne Little, Patrick and Allison Schoenvogel, and Tod and Laura Flores plan to rebuild in time to celebrate Murdoch's 100th anniversary in 2010.