Architectural oddity on island’s West End evokes strong opinions
An unusual metal dwelling among the pastel and candied-color beach houses on Galveston’s West End has long inspired strong and immediate reactions. But little is known about what islanders refer to as the Kettle House, 14106 Miramar Drive.
“I hate that place,” island architect David Mullican said. “I despise it. It gets more publicity than just about any house in Galveston and it’s unjustified.”
“It’s basically a retrofit of a storage container,” Mullican said.
Although the place is apparently meant as a home, a bowl-like type design gives it a look unlike any other on the island, only further exacerbated by boarded-up windows and doors.
“It’s just wackadoodle,” said Linda Armstrong, a Dallas-area writer who has written about the house. “It’s a house made out of a storage tank for goodness sake. Plus, you never see anyone going in or out, and it pretty much looks abandoned. So, it ratchets up the curiosity factor and conjures all sorts of ‘what if’ scenarios in the brain.”
Armstrong interviewed Mary Etheridge-Rachels — the current owner — in an August article for Swamplot. Etheridge-Rachels told Armstrong that her father built the house in the late 1960s from supplies he got as a steel worker and that it was originally meant as a drive-up convenience store and liquor store.
Etheridge-Rachels did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
“The true story behind it was much better than I expected,” Armstrong said. “It’s not only about a piece of metal, but about a man with a dream — one that played out not only on the island, but in the southern parts of Houston as well.”
Clayton E. Stokley, who built the Kettle House, also built three other structures from steel-tank parts in the Houston area and eventually passed away in 2005, Armstrong said.
Etheridge-Rachels is in the process of selling it, Armstrong said.