Past Treasure of the Month – February 2015

A Tribute to Lise Darst
Mardi Gras gown worn by Lise Darst in 1952. The gown was donated to the Rosenberg Library's permanent collection in 1986.Mardi Gras gown worn by Lise Darst in 1952. The gown was donated to the Rosenberg Library’s permanent collection in 1986.

During the month of February, Rosenberg Library exhibited a vintage Mardi Gras gown originally worn by Lise Darst, longtime curator of the Library’s museum collection. Ms. Darst passed away December 29, 2014.

Born on the Island

Elisabeth Fontaine Darst was born in Galveston on New Year’s Day, 1933. Her interest in local history came naturally as both sides of her family were early settlers in Texas and on Galveston Island. After graduating from Ball High School, she enrolled at Gulfpark College in Mississippi and studied art. During the 1960s and 1970s, Darst exhibited her work at a variety of local and national venues. She received accolades for her paintings in oil and in watercolor, and examples of her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and of the Rosenberg Library.

25 Years at Rosenberg Library

Ms. Darst was appointed Museum Curator for Rosenberg Library in 1979. She organized and catalogued thousands of objects which had been acquired by the Library since its opening in 1904. In addition, she planned numerous art shows and exhibitions related to the history of Galveston. During the mid-1990s, Ms. Darst collaborated with author and professor Edward Simmen to produce With Bold Strokes, a biography of early 20th century Galveston artist Boyer Gonzales. After a twenty-five year tenure at the Library, she retired in 2004.

Galveston Mardi Gras, 1952

The Galveston Mardi Gras celebrations in 1952 garnered statewide attention. Debutantes from various Texas cities participated in pageants, parties, and coronation balls on the island that year. Nineteen-year-old Elisabeth Fontaine Darst was among several young ladies selected for the Royal Court of King Frivolous XVI. A coronation ceremony was held at the City Auditorium followed by a ball at the Galveston Pleasure Pier. Ms. Darst represented the Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha at the Court of St. James, wearing a blue ruffled gown trimmed in gold.

Photo of the 1952 Mardi Gras court. Lise Darst is seated on the front row, fifth from right.Photo of the 1952 Mardi Gras court.
Lise Darst is seated on the front row, fifth from right.