MRC's Origin is Due to the Generosity of the Moody Family

February 28, 2022

W.L. Moody, Jr. was born in 1865 to Col. William Lewis Moody, a successful businessman who had established a profitable cotton, wool and mercantile business on Galveston Island. Col. Moody was so successful that Galveston was known as “The Wall Street of the Southwest.” W.L. would take interest in the family business at a young age, becoming partner at 21 years old. His youthful influence encouraged his father to expand the family business into new enterprises such as banking, insurance and hotels.

The Buccaneer Hotel while under construction. 

It would be Moody, Jr.’s interest in hotels that would eventually result in MRC’s beginning. On May 1, 1929, the Buccaneer Hotel held its Grand Opening on Galveston Island. The hotel joined 30 other hotels owned by the family. The residents of Galveston were in awe of the 11 story building as it was the second-tallest building in the city. The hotel boasted of 440 rooms with  incredible views of the Gulf of Mexico. The tourist attraction truly embodied luxury with an indoor putting green, ballroom, and coffee shop with a proto-air conditioning system. The operation opened with 150 employees to provide top-of-the-line service to guests with unheard of features at the time like a laundry chute and a kitchen that was deemed to be state-of-the-art. The Galveston Daily News published, “Enormous kitchen is a marvel of science!”

Once opened, the site was certainly a spot for tourists, but local families would also come dressed in their best clothes for an uptown treat. The dining room was one of the only places in town children may have been introduced to the proper use of a finger bowl between courses or the awe of seeing a cascading fountain, filled with spare change in the foyer.

The interior of the hotel was designed to spare no elegant detail by Architect Andrew Frasier. 

The hotel was a hotspot during the social buzz of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. A popular radio station, KLUF, broadcast from the venue giving many aspiring singers their debut. Occupants of the hotel may have found themselves in the presence of celebrities who frequented the hotel like Jack Benny and Phil Harris. Locals may have also been star struck if they should run into the Moody family, W.L. and his wife Libbie along with their children; Mary Elizabeth, William and Libbie, who lived on the third floor of the hotel for many years. Mary Elizabeth (pictured right) would go on to run the family business after her father’s passing in 1954.

Mary Elizabeth Moody

The Moody family donated the building to the Methodist Church in 1961 naming the site Moody House after W.L. Moody, Jr. In 1962, Methodist Home of Older People was established, later renamed Methodist Retirement Communities.


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