The Powhatan House, located in Galveston, was built as a residence for John S. Sydnor, a well-known cotton merchant, an early mayor of Galveston, and financier. The constructor, Col. John Seabrook Sydnor, was an early exponent of the “cotton culture” that came to Texas. Many Southerners regarded Texas as the South’s frontier, where rich lands were fit for the exploitation of cotton cultivation. Col. Sydnor migrated to Galveston from Hanover County in 1838. Recognizing that Galveston was the major port of entry for all of Texas’ trade and immigration, he invested extensively in real estate and formed the J.S. Sydnor & Co. cotton merchants, one of Galveston’s leading cotton wholesalers until 1866.
The Powhatan House is one of the oldest buildings in Galveston and is an example of Greek Revival architecture in Texas with Victorian modifications. The first and second floors were built of lumber and millwork from Maine. In 1893 the house was moved to its present site from its original location on the block between 21st and 22nd streets. The Powhatan House was then divided into three sections and made into three separate raised homes on contiguous lots. One section remains on the adjacent lot, but the third portion was destroyed by a fire.
Today, the Powhatan House is undergoing a variety of renovation projects but is still home to club activities.