League City City Council approves turning historic Ghirardi House into Italian Heritage Museum

Ghirardi House, Italian Heritage Museum, Butler Longhorn Museum
League City in August 2019 began repairing the Ghirardi House, a 1918 home of one of the original 12 Italian families who settled in the city. (Courtesy city of League City)

League City in August 2019 began repairing the Ghirardi House, a 1918 home of one of the original 12 Italian families who settled in the city. (Courtesy city of League City)

After a lengthy discussion and an outpouring of public support, League City City Council voted 5-3 on Aug. 11 to approve turning the historic Ghirardi House into the Italian Heritage Museum and including it under Butler Longhorn Museum's operations.

The Ghirardi House at 1220 Coryell St., League City, at Heritage Park dates back to 1918 when it was built by one of the 12 original Italian families who settled in League City.

In August 2019, League City crews began restoring the two-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot home. All that is left is to paint the exterior and other miscellaneous tasks totaling about $30,000, City Manager John Baumgartner said.

So far, about $68,000 has been invested into repair the house, according to city documents.

Dozens of residents spoke Aug. 11 in favor of a resolution that would allow the nearby Butler Longhorn Museum to operate the Ghirardi House as the Italian Heritage Museum and fill it with historic artifacts related to the dozen original Italian farming families who settled in League City. The museum originally requested to take over the Ghirardi House in 2015, museum Executive Director Monica Hughes wrote to the council.


Despite many voicing support of promoting League City's history and heritage by operating the house as a tourable museum, some wondered how the city could afford it.

A League City Convention & Visitors Bureau Advisory Board member said COVID-19 has hit the tourism industry hard. The bureau promotes tourism with hotel occupancy tax funds, which are taxes taken from hotel and motel stay.

But HOT funds are down this year due to the pandemic, the board member said. The board has concerns about how the bureau can support not only the Butler Longhorn Museum but a new Italian Heritage Museum at this time with HOT funds.

Council Member Nick Long expressed similar concerns.

"Spending HOT tax money is not a solution," he said.

The Butler Longhorn Museum sees only 4,000 visitors a year, or 12 per day, so the museum is not adding a lot of value to local restaurants and hotels that benefit from tourism. Adding a new museum only makes the problem worse, Long said.

"I think [promoting] history is worthy," he said. "However, I don’t think it’s worth continually throwing money into the wind on.”

The city's operating agreement with the Butler Longhorn Museum expires in September 2021, which is when the council can reexamine both museums. Mayor Pat Hallisey said the museum has just over a year to prove operating both museums can work.

"Make it work. That’s the deal," he said.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

<

MOST RECENT

Public schools cannot require students, teachers, parents and other staff members or visitors to wear masks after June 4, Gov. Greg Abbott declared in an executive order issued May 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Public schools can't require students, staff to wear masks after June 4, Gov. Abbott says

"Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities," Gov. Greg Abbott said.

George Strait will perform at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's 90th anniversary celebration next year. (Courtesy Pexels)
George Strait to close 2022 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with concert March 20

Tickets for George Strait's rodeo performance will go on sale June 24.

Effective June 26, unemployed Texans will no longer be eligible to receive the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces end-date for Texans to receive federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits

Effective June 26, unemployed Texans will no longer be eligible to receive the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

Photo of an H-E-B store
H-E-B makes curbside services free

Previously, curbside shoppers were charged a $4.95 fee on all orders, but moving forward that fee will be waived on purchases of $35 or more. Orders worth less than $35 will have a $2.95 "small basket surcharge" attached.

Each of the new locations will be available to the public to distribute and receive voter registration forms and applications to vote my mail as well as assisting with other election-related services. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Harris County elections administrator announces 8 new branch office locations

Registering to vote will soon be more convenient for Harris County residents with the opening of eight new branch office locations announced by the Harris County Elections Administrator's Office in a news release May 17.

Imperio Wine & Spirits sells a variety of liquor, beer, wine and spirits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Imperio Wine & Spirits opens in Katy; Montgomery Chick-fil-A to open dining room and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

The flood gauges will help monitor rainfall and stream levels in specific areas during heavy-rainfall events. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
League City installs 6 flood gauges in Clear Creek, Dickinson Bayou watersheds

Once installed and operational, data from the gauges will be published online so residents can track water levels during high-rainfall events.

The art classes are split into kindergarten through fifth graders and sixth through 12th graders. (Courtesy of University of Houston-Clear Lake)
University of Houston-Clear Lake expands offerings at Art School for Children

The school's first classes geared specifically towards children on the autism spectrum will be offered May 22 for grades K-12.

See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year

While some school districts in the Greater Houston area are doing away with face mask requirements and virtual schooling completely, others are pivoting to continue offering online learning options for students and plan to require face masks.