Antoine Lauve arrived in the New World on a ship named the Deux Freres out of the port of La Rochelle, France. Though passage was free (France had launched a massive campaign to populate the Louisiana territory), the ship’s registry reflects that he was a paid private passenger. Therefore, we assume Lauve had the means to purchase his ticket. Landing at the Fort in Old Biloxi, Lauve traveled to another port city newly named “New Orleans.” He opened his tailor shop in what is now the heart of the French Quarter. Church records indicate that Antoine Lauve’s son, Nicolas, was baptized in St. Louis Cathedral in 1731 and grew up in New Orleans, owning a shoemaker’s shop as an adult. Nicolas had a son named Charles Evariste Lauve.
Charles Evariste Lauve (Antoine’s grandson) married Celeste Brunet (granddaughter of the Marquis de Brunet who was beheaded during the French Revolution). Evariste built his bride a home on the banks of the muddy Mississippi River in the Province of Iberville outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and fondly named it the Celeste Estate. Celeste Brunet Lauve gave birth to 19 children in their estate home while Evariste produced sugar cane on their 3,000 acres. Evariste Lauve died in 1843, never witnessing his seven sons and grandsons standing together in Civil War Uniform.
Gustave Norbert Lauve left Celeste Plantation in Iberville Parish for Galveston, Texas, accompanied by his brothers Pierre Omer Lauve, Nicholas O. Lauve and their nephew, Andrew. Hardworking and well- educated, the Lauve brothers adapted well to the business atmosphere of this booming Texas port city. The men could not help but embrace Galveston’s stark similarities to their Louisiana home… hot, humid weather, grassy marshes, muddy water, mosquitoes, hurricanes and the occasional “Blue Norther.” But, oh! The fishing & hunting were great!
Gustave Norbert Lauve had carved a niche for himself in Texas history as Governor Moss certified G.N. Lauve the first Official Cotton Weigher in Galveston. Cotton was “king” and Galveston was cotton’s main U.S. port. Meanwhile, brother N.O. Lauve was serving as a Galveston County Commissioner, working with others to enhance rail service to the island port. Gustave and Pierre enjoyed almost daily contact, as both men worked on the north side of the 100 block of The Strand in Downtown Galveston, which eventually became the 2200 block of The Strand … the spot where you now stand in the Jules Lauve Bldg, housing the Roof Garden.
On September 8, Gustave Lauve and most of his family survived the catastrophic 1900 Storm, riding out that infamous hurricane in their home at 2208 Avenue O. Like so many others, the Lauves chose to remain on the island after The Great Storm despite the many grueling years of rebuilding that followed, witnessing and participating in two historically significant engineering feats: construction of Galveston’s Seawall and the city’s massive grade raising effort.
Jules Lauve, Jr. was born in the family’s Galveston home to Jules J. Lauve, Sr. and Gertrude Bullacher Lauve (herself a 1900 Storm Survivor at age twelve, together with her 22 brothers and sisters in the Bullacher home on the NE corner of 39th & Broadway). The youngest of three children, Jules had a sister, Corinne Edviedge Lauve Kirchem, and a brother, C.A. “Neal” Lauve (who worked in Jules’ business for many years). Graduating from Ball High School at age sixteen, Jules Lauve emerged into a Galveston business climate mired in the wake of the Great Depression. In 1932, Cotton was no longer king. Galveston’s port lay idle. Jules’ long held plans for a college degree in engineering were forced aside in lieu of more “practical” concerns.
Jules J. Lauve, Sr. (Gustave Norbert Lauve’s son) was named a certified Galveston Cotton Weigher by Texas Governor Ferguson, never imagining the economic depression that lay just four years down the road for Galveston’s port, “King Cotton” and the U.S. in the Crash of 1929.
Jules Lauve, Jr. founded his sign business in Galveston with the purchase of a sign shop from T.G. Cordui (who himself had trained in France under the tutelage of the famous artist, Toulouse LeTrec) and an initial investment of $200.00. Jules was painting weekly marquee sign copy & poster pictorials for local movie theaters every Tuesday night, contracting with national advertisers to paint their large ads on old brick walls, and producing smaller painted signs by hand from his sign shop located on the 2nd floor at the NW corner of 22nd and Mechanic.
Jules Lauve purchased an old tobacco warehouse near the Wharves at 2210 Strand, converted years earlier from housing cotton. The building on this site earlier hosted the city’s “Hay, Grain & Feed Store” for many years in the 1800s and was originally built in the late 1700s as a three-story building (with offices on the 2nd & 3rd floors.). The top two floors of the building were destroyed in the 1900 Storm, leaving a rare one story building in the heart of The Strand. Jules purchased an additional warehouse next door at 2214 – 18 Strand in the late 1960s. He operated his sign & billboard company (Jules Lauve, Jr., Inc.) from this site for more than 50 years, serving Galveston County and beyond. Jules was regionally and state renowned through the 1940s for his own unique, original neon designs and metal creations, such as the four-cornered-palm-tree dance floor in the Balinese Room on 23rd & Seawall Boulevard and the Coca-Cola neon sign over the old Star Drug Store on Tremont Street (the oldest Coca-Cola sign in Texas).
September 8th, the anniversary of the 1900 Storm, as well as the birthday of Jules Lauve, Jr.’s beautiful bride, business partner, mother of five and lifetime love Mary Evelyn Gutierrez Lauve, fixed in their memory once more when Hurricane Carla crossed the Texas coast on September 8, 1961. Billboards had become Jules’ specialty by 1961. Lauve’s billboard business was completely destroyed. The family’s home was flooded, as well as the Strand offices and warehouse, destroying every truck and personal vehicle. Worse yet, Jules’ duck blinds and hunting & fishing camp on Mud Island in West Galveston Bay were also destroyed. Jules served for many years as the “Texas State Commodore” of Mud Island in West Galveston Bay. After Hurricane Carla, even though flood insurance did not exist at the time, the Lauve families remained and rebuilt in Galveston (and, not surprisingly, the Mud Island camp was repaired first!).
Jules Lauve ushered the “next generation” into his company. Jules served as beloved business mentor, as well as father, to his new “3-Man Team”, Charles Staudt, Sr., Darcy Lauve Overton & Juliet Lauve Staudt. The next 30 years enjoyed a healthy, growing company lovingly run by family working hard together on this site. Even through the tough times after Hurricane Alicia in 1983 that destroyed “…just the business this time,” the Lauve’s chose to remain in Galveston and rebuild. Before his passing in 1998 and subsequent sale of the billboard company, Jules Lauve’s plant was recognized as the Oldest Outdoor Advertising Company in Texas.
The year 1998 ushered in a re-development of the Strand property by Jules Lauve’s family. They converted the old one story warehouses, creating popular retail shop spaces below and adding the new second floor facility & balcony above which houses the Roof Garden.
The Roof Garden opened at 2214 Strand. It is a project of Jules Lauve, Jr., Inc. and is family-owned & operated by the Galveston children of Jules & Mary Lauve. As great-great grandchildren of Gustave Norbert Lauve, these 5th Generation Galvestonians are prayerfully thankful for God’s blessings and quite proud of what their parents built together here. They consider it an honor to be part of such a colorful early American history. As descendants of Antoine Lauve of New Orleans (1719), the Lauve family is documented as one of Louisiana’s “oldest, original French families” (i.e., “Creole”).
Hurricane Ike devastated much of Galveston, including the Roof Garden and the Lauve’s family home. Once again, the Lauve family rebuilt and the Roof Garden was back in business within 60 days – one of the first businesses to re-open on The Strand.