The Firm of William Hendley & Co. was founded in 1845. The partnership consisted of William Hendley, Capt. Joseph J. Hendley, John L. Sleight, and Phillip Gildersleeve.
This firm, with Brower and Neilson of New York, started the "Texas and New York Packet Line" with the purpose of establishing a line of fast sailing packets between Galveston and New York.
Beginning with four ships the firm grew rapidly, becoming the city's largest shipping company. To accommodate their growing business and provide space for other businesses, William Hendley & Co., had this row constructed.
Hendley Row, the oldest surviving commercial structure on the Strand, is a three story Greek Revival block of four separate buildings with common walls and a uniform brick facade, with rusticated granite quoins marking the separations between the four buildings. Granite plaques' in the center of the upper story of each section contain the initials of the four original deed holders, Thomas M. League, E Gilbeau, Joseph J. Hendley, William Hendley and the date of the building.
The row was begun in 1855 with the excavation of the foundation. Sand was removed to a considerable depth and pilings of great length were driven in. Huge granite blocks were placed on the ground and pilings. Over the granite a mixture of concrete and San
Jacinto sand was poured. Vessels of the Hendley Line brought bricks and other supplies to Galveston. The first brick was laid in 1858. All brick in the building was dipped in water to assure proper curing before laying. Separate gabled roofs covered each of the buildings. It was completed in 1859.
The first story arcade with granite thresholds has a double doors between massive granite pier columns surmounted by a granite cornice. The second and third floors are built with compressed brick, using a unique 1/16" mortar joint. Granite lentils are above each window on the south and east elevations. Originally there was a 3rd. floor iron-railed balcony extending the length of the row on the east and south sides. Lighting was aided by large skylights in the roofs. The western-most building burned in 1866 and was rebuilt in 1867 exactly as before the fire although the interior woodwork was simplified. Some of the granite columns probably were replaced with brick at this time.
Union and Confederate forces used the building in the Civil War. During the 3 month Federal occupation of Galveston in 1862, Union troops used the building's roof as their looking spot. The 7th granite pier from the Strand on 20th street was shattered at the edge of the capital. When the Confederate forces retook the port, they also used the Hendley roof to observe enemy troops and naval movements.
reconstruction, the U.S. Commander at Galveston made the row his headquarters. In 1880, the United States Army Corps of Engineers had their headquarters here. Banks, attorneys, and many businesses occupied Hendley Row.
July, 1968, the owner's began demolition of the west section of the building. Preservationists succeeded in buying the building, and in August, 1968, it was donated to the Galveston Historical Foundation.
In 1979, GHF carefully rehabilitated the west section of the row. Because the western wall of the building was pulling away from the structure, a system of steel buttresses was constructed to reinforce the wall. This system allowed a second egress and utility rooms to be constructed in the new space adjacent to the structure.