A new behind-the-scenes guided tour at Moody Mansion offers small groups access to areas of the mansion not normally open to the public, along with insight into the life and legacy of the late Mary Moody Northen.
The new “Legacy Tour” is guided by a docent who describes Northen’s lifetime of support for history, culture, education and preservation and the thousands of artifacts she collected and protected through the years.
The tour will be available at 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
“We began offering exclusive guided tours on a limited schedule during our 25th anniversary year last year,” said Betty Massey, executive director of the Mary Moody Northen Endowment, which owns and operates Moody Mansion. “The popularity of those tours demonstrated that many of our guests are looking for a more in-depth, personalized experience. We decided one of our most important stories is the depth of Mrs. Northen’s philanthropy and commitment to causes she felt were important.”
Mary Moody Northen was the eldest of the four children of Libbie and W.L. Moody Jr. Her family purchased the home in 1900 when Mary was 8 years old, and she lived there until marrying Edwin Clyde Northen in 1915. She moved back into the mansion after her husband died in 1954, and her father passed away just seven weeks later.
Mrs. Northen inherited the mansion as well as leadership roles in the many Moody business interests — including insurance, hotels, banking, printing, newspaper publishing, ranching and cotton. At age 62, she became one of the most influential women in American business.
She also expanded her philanthropic activities. She chaired the Moody Foundation and established the Mary Moody Northen Endowment. She was a leader in the Galveston renaissance beginning in the 1970s, providing funds for such projects as Galveston’s Railroad Museum, The Grand 1894 Opera House and the tall ship Elissa. She also was a major supporter of causes throughout Texas and elsewhere, including Native Americans, Boy Scouts of America and higher education in the family’s native Virginia.
Moody Mansion was severely damaged by Hurricane Alicia in 1983, but Mrs. Northen vowed to restore her family home and open it as a museum. She passed away at the age of 94 in 1986, five years before completion of the $10 million restoration.
“To Mrs. Northen, this was her home,” said Sharon Gillins, Moody Mansion researcher who wrote and produced the new tour. “This was a place full of memories of her time spent here with her beloved father, mother, brothers and sister. It was her love of her family home that gave her the vision and commitment to ensure that Moody Mansion would be restored as a museum for all to enjoy.”
Because the Legacy Tour group size is limited to 10 guests, advance reservations are highly recommended, either by visiting the mansion at 2618 Broadway in Galveston, or by calling 409-762-7668.
Self-guided audio tour hours are available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, without advance reservations. The last tickets for those tours are sold at 4 p.m., and the house closes at 5 p.m. Additional information can be found at www.moodymansion.org.