Thursday, July 8, 2010

Paul Gruetzmacher & Co.'s Galveston Printshop

Reece sent me some photos from Aunty Grace's scrapbooks this past week. Among the portraits of a bunch of Gruetzmacher's [What is the collective term for this? A Gaggle of Geese. A Pride of Lions. A Grinch of Gruetzmacher's, maybe?] was a cabinet photograph of Paul Gruetzmacher & Co.'s storefront in Galveston. Grace's notes place the print shop on Mechanic, above the stationers. I date the picture from before 1900 for two reasons. As far as I know, Paul never re-opened his printing business after the 1900 Storm. And, looking at the picture, it appears to have gone through the storm with some rather heavy water damage.

In the Galveston City Directories for 1872 through 1878, Paul was in business with A. Stein & Co. (whose name is below Paul's on the storefront sign). The location of this store is not in my notes. From 1880 to about 1882 "Paul Gruetzmacher & Co., Books and Stationery" was located at 125 Strand between 22nd and Tremont (23rd) streets. From 1882 to 1885, Paul worked for another printing outfit, but soon went independent again in 1886 as "Paul Gruetzmacher & Bro., Book, Job & Comm. Printing" at 171 Strand (later re-numbered 2109) between 21st and 22nd. He is listed at that location to about 1895-95, and until 1900 simply as a printer, with no location provided. After the 1900 Storm, Paul is mentioned in the 1903 Directory as a City Solicitor with Hatch, Millis & Co.

From this information, I suspect that the photograph above was taken from 1872 to 1878, when Paul was partners with Stein. I believe Aunt Grace was in error as to the location, as the city directories never locate Paul's (or Louis') print shops on Mechanic.

In researching the location, I dug out my copy of "The Galveston That Was" by Howard Barnstone (1966), and found the picture above (and several more) of the "Willard Richardson Building" that was built in 1858. Located at 2217 Market Street, it was demolished around 1964. Upon close comparison of architectural details, especially the windows, I believe that this building was in fact the true location of Paul's first print shop in Galveston.

The building later was utilized by a series of bookstore's, first as Bacon's (with a job printer as co-tenant), next as Purdy's, from 1909 until 1930, and lastly as Henry's Bookstore from 1945 to 1963.

Barnstone describes the building as "One of the most luscious of the iron fronts to be built anywhere...." The iron front for Richardson's building came from the Philadelphia foundry owned by Sanson & Farrand.

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