It's in the Details: Historic Renovation

BC Commercial Completes Historic Renovation

Hendley Lofts, Galveston

BC Commercial recently completed its first historical renovation in the Hendley Building of the Historic Strand District in Galveston, Texas. Taking on a renovation of this sort, while observing and preserving the historical elements involved, can be an intimidating task. However, the BC Commercial team found that combining their expertise in the industry with the proper research and planning on the front end was the key to a successful completion.


The Strand District of Galveston Island is a National Historic Landmark district consisting of mainly Victorian era buildings. Many of the structures date as far back as 1858. Throughout the 19th century, the port city of Galveston boomed as one of the region’s main business centers. Hendley Row, built in 1858-59, was the first and most substantial structure to be built during this time.


Getting a full grasp of the history of the building and the procedures and materials of that time period were an essential part of pre-construction. BC Commercial partnered with the project architects to obtain historic documentation of the Hendley building’s original construction.

Four three-story, Greek Revival inspired buildings make up Hendley Row. Each separated by a fire wall, but sharing one uniform brick facade. Original features of the project site that still remain include:

  • Ornamental elements made of granite including columns and cornices, which are complimented throughout by cast iron features.
  • A large skylight that that replaces the original wooden cupola. The building was the tallest commercial building at the time and the cupola served as a lookout post during the Civil War.
  • Nicely proportioned six over six windows. The original architecture featured the trabeated system- known for strong horizontal elements held up by equally strong vertical elements. The windows showcase the original lintels or horizontal beams of stone.

It is important to note that these structures survived the great storm of 1900 which has been regarded as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, a true testament to the superior building procedures of the time


BC Commercial was hired to renovate existing residences on the upper floors of the building into high-end lofts. In a process guided by an “old meets new” technique, the architects set out to maintain Hendley’s rich history, while combining modern architectural elements that will appeal to new residents. The Hendley Building is designated a National Historic Landmark and therefor important steps were taken to maintain this classification.

Significant changes can be made to a historic structure as long as the character-defining elements remain. Important systems such as plumbing and electrical, had to be replaced to maintain proper inspections. BC Commercial updated existing pipes and wiring and installed A/C units, fire sprinkler systems and an HVAC system. In general, anything that threatened the overall safety of the occupants of the property, was replaced.

To retain the building’s historical designations BC Commercial repaired and reinforced some of the original features while preserving the appearance by using materials and techniques of the original constructors. This included careful procedures to ensure the integrity of the granite columns, cast iron details and original stone and brick.

During this process, The Hendley Market, which occupied the first floor of the building remained fully operational. The Market was one of the very first businesses to breathe life back into The Strand Historic District in downtown Galveston in the late 1970s. With construction going on just one floor above the Market, BC Commercial maintained a respectful job site, allowing the Market to remain fully operational throughout the project.

Overall, the entire Hendley Building construction project included: new walls, bathrooms, kitchens-including: cabinets, new finishes, new canopy railings, and paint, a new roof, new A/C units, new electrical service, a new fire sprinkler system and a new HVAC system.

BC Commercial understands that historic preservation is at the heart of some of our most vibrant communities. We look forward to our next historical renovation.

For all your construction needs, please consider BC Commercial!