Research Notes: Balinese Room

One of the family history threads I’ve been researching leads to Galveston, Texas in the 1930s-40s and the Maceo family, and by extension, Galveston’s Balinese Room. This spot was super-popular in its heyday, attracting visits and performances from celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee and others. Apparently it was quite the place to be – and a dance hall and illegal casino stretching over the Gulf of Mexico does sound pretty cool!

“On January 17th, 1942, the Maceos opened their Galveston jewel, the Balinese Room. The interior had been remodeled in a South Seas motif and the pier had again been expanded, this time to 600 feet. Its private back room was equipped with the most modern gaming equipment, and long before Vegas attracted the big names, the Maceos lured high rollers to “Play on Galveston Island.”” – via Galveston Island/Facebook

Unfortunately, time and Galveston’s famous tropical storms and hurricanes have erased The Balinese Room from its prominent spot across from Hotel Galvez, at 21st and Seawall Blvd. After being purchased and rebuilt several times over the decades, Hurricane Ike demolished it, leaving only the memories and memorabilia of this distinctive place.

Later on, I will dive deeper into my family’s connection with Maceo family associates and its repercussions. For now, enjoy these images and scroll down to read more about this fascinating place and period in Galveston and Texas history.


June 10, 1957:The Balinese Room at 2107 Seawall Blvd, Galveston. via Houston Chronicle Files
Galveston’s Seawall Boulevard and Balinese Room, via Galveston Island/Facebook

Please explore these links for further reading:

Boatman, T. Nicole. Island Empire: the Influence of the Maceo Family in Galveston, thesis, August 2014; Denton, Texas. University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library.

“One Last Shot,” Texas Monthly, June 1993

“Land of the Free: Galveston’s Resilient Spirit Sparks Another Renaissance,” Texas Highways, June 2021

Researching on a Snow Day

It’s a snow day week here, and my studio feels a bit daunting and too cold to relax in and get into the zone. So, I’m spending the day organizing some research I’ve found lately. I have been going through old Diboll Free Press newspapers. There are a bunch of them with a lot of good information – some historical but most of it in terms of “slices of life” as it published mostly unedited citizen reporter news from the surrounding counties. I’ll say more on that later on, but in the meantime, here are some fun vintage newspaper ads I’ve come across.

A Multitude of Matriarchs

“Multitude of Matriarchs,” Monotype Print: Acrylic and Ink by Stephanie Khattak.

This print was taken from a 1960s baby shower at the Homer United Methodist Church. These were the hostesses, family friends who could always be counted on to spray their hair, polish up their cat-eye glasses and punch bowls, and run the show.

Many, many years after this, I hosted my first shower for my own expectant friend, in the same church fellowship hall where these ladies stand. I remember standing in the church breezeway, cutting gladiola stems, wondering if we had enough tablecloths and feeling a connection to the community of “aunties” who I had seen do the same things over the years. I’m proud to come from a community where it is second nature to show up and celebrate people.