Built in 1886 to replace a house destroyed in the great Strand fire, this was the home of Robert Morris and Sarah Franklin. Robert Franklin (1839-1923) was the son of Benjamin C. Franklin, the Battle of San Jacinto veteran for whom Franklin County was named. An attorney and judge, he had taken part in the Civil War Battle of Galveston as a "horse Marine," a Confederate cavalryman aboard a makeshift "cottonclad" battleship. As the officer in charge of a captured Federal ship, Franklin single-handedly captured notorious Confederate deserter and Union spy "Nicaragua" Smith the day after the battle.Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1999
The house probably was designed by noted Galveston architect Nathaniel Tobey, whose works included the Galveston Opera House. According to family history, it survived the 1900 storm with three feet of water inside the downstairs rooms. Franklin was actively involved in the planning of the seawall.
John F. Wandless (1879-1961) was born in New Brunswick, Canada. He was a veteran of the Boer War and World War I, and worked as a mounted policeman and journalist before coming to Galveston in 1921. John and his wife Vernonica "Vera" Wandless (1896-1977), bought the house from the Franklin heirs in 1931. During World War II, John Wandless served as a key Gulf Coast security and intelligence officer for Great Britain, while Vera operated the popular local British Allied & Merchant Navy Club. They achieved U. S. citizenship in the 1950s.
The Franklin-Wandless house is an imposing example of the Italianate style. Hallmark features of the style include pedimented doors and windows, corbelled eaves and the double gallery porch with chamfered (beveled) posts and bandsawn brackets.