Past Treasure of the Month – May 2019
During the month of May, Rosenberg Library exhibited items related to a city-wide flag design competition held in the spring of 1916.
During the early 20th century, a national movement prompted many cities across the United States to adopt their own distinct municipal flags. These flags were flown at public buildings alongside the flags of the state and nation. By 1916, approximately 40 cities of 30,000 or more residents had adopted municipal flags.
To celebrate the opening of Galveston’s new City Hall building on 25th Street, the YWCA and E.S. Levy and Co. co-sponsored a design competition which was formally announced in March 1916. H.H. Levy would furnish a $5.00 cash prize to the winner, and members of the YWCA would sew the flag based on the winning design. The flag was to be flown in front of City Hall during its grand unveiling. When the competition was advertised in the Galveston Daily News, much interest was generated among both school-age student artists and professional adult artists.
A panel of respected local artists including Boyer Gonzales, E.B. Harris, J.M. Maurer, and Frances Kirk were chosen to serve on a selection committee. Designs were to include symbols related to the island’s colorful history. Additionally, the designs could incorporate local interests and activities unique to Galveston.
The selection committee narrowed the field to twelve finalists, and these designs were presented to the city commissioners for their consideration.
The winning design was announced on April 20, 1916. It was co-submitted by Perry Luth and D.K. Bowie, and the pair split the $5.00 cash prize. Luth was a mechanical engineer who worked as a manufacturer’s agent, and Bowie was a draftsman employed by North American Dredging Company. Their design featured the coat of arms of Bernardo de Galvez at the center framed by a wreath of oleanders. Surrounding it were the flags of the six nations flown over Texas at various times in its history—Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America.