Updated date:

UTMB Medical School and "Old Red" in Galveston, Texas

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Galveston Old Red Building on UTMB Campus

Galveston Old Red Building on UTMB Campus

Galveston Vacation

Many people think of Galveston for one reason only; a Galveston vacation on the beach is what they seek. This barrier island, located just 45 miles southeast of Houston, has miles and miles of beaches luring those who like to play in the sand and surf, but some people come to Galveston Island to get an education at the University of Texas Medical Branch (a.k.a. UTMB) Galveston.

From very modest beginnings in 1891, this is the oldest medical school west of the Mississippi River. It was also the first medical school in the State of Texas. UTMB has grown to become something that the originators of this complex probably never dreamed possible.

Another view of Old Red on the UTMB campus

Another view of Old Red on the UTMB campus

Old Red

Old Red is the affectionate nickname for this outstanding building designed by noted architect Nicolas Clayton. He designed the Bishop's Palace along with other spectacular buildings located on Galveston Island during his exceptional career.

People who appreciate architecture will enjoy viewing this stunning building. Old Red is a great example of Romanesque Revival style with its round arches and rows of bricks and stone used in a continuous fashion. Note the semi-circular arches over so many of the windows. It makes for an elegant and grand appearance.

Old Red was initially named the Ashbel Smith Building after Dr. Ashbel Smith. Dr. Ashbel Smith was one of the people instrumental in getting the medical school building established on Galveston Island.

The colors of the red Texas granite and sandstone along with the red pressed brick used in the construction of this building give it this pink to reddish overall appearance, thus the affectionate chromatic hued nickname.

The Ashbel Smith Building has the distinction of not only being picturesque but has earned a Texas Historical Commission marker and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

UTMB Galveston

Up until the year 1922, the Ashbel Smith Building was the only classroom plus lab space for the medical students who came to Galveston to study and attain their degrees. Starting from just one building in 1891 with an initial class of 23 students, this UTMB Galveston campus has grown to encompass 84 acres of land and now has over 70 buildings and around 2,500 students.

These students study everything from becoming different types of therapists to nurses, physician assistants, doctors, researchers and more. Just about anything related to the health field can be studied and learned at this medical school. With seven hospitals and multiple clinics plus a focus on serving the medically underserved people in the community, this offers students a chance to become fully involved in this learning environment without having to go elsewhere to gain experience.

Galveston offers one of only three level one trauma centers in the Houston metropolitan area. If someone has a serious life threatening emergency this is one of the places where one would wish to be treated if at all possible.

UTMB also has the distinction of having one of the two national bio-containment laboratories in the United States. Vital work is accomplished here which impacts not only United States citizens but potentially those all around the world. Research done here can hopefully ward off or at least help alleviate the effects of the next world pandemic as an example.

Galveston Island Beaches

Just imagine that you are one of those students attending UTMB Galveston and have had a long day studying and doing some clinical practice. Would the lure of walking on a beach just minutes from where you live be of interest when wishing to relax?

Whether you are a student or a vacationer these are some of the things available just minutes away no matter where you stay or live on the island:

  • water sports,
  • bicycling on the beach,
  • surfing,
  • boating,
  • fishing,
  • playing volleyball or badminton on a sun drenched beach,
  • laying on a beach blanket listening to the soothing sounds of the repetitive waves,
  • shelling and hoping to start or add to a seashell collection
  • or watching sunsets and listening to the numerous seabirds.

There are different types of beaches offering many kinds of amenities found on Galveston Island. One of the popular ones is featured in the video below.

My Linocut Art

Many school children who take art classes today are introduced to linocut art. I took a free class at a local community center as an adult. It was there that I learned how to make a linocut.

Architectural design of buildings makes for good subject matter and Old Red certainly drew my interest. It inspired me to create an original linoleum cut art print of it. A few of these hand printed limited edition linocuts were tinted using watercolor pencils after they were printed making them 1/1 prints. A number of them have been sold to graduating students from UTMB Galveston during the one person shows that I have had in Galveston.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this look at the architectural design of the Ashbel Smith Building plus learned something about the medical school found on the captivating island of Galveston.

Old Red Original Linocut by Peggy Woods

Old Red Original Linocut by Peggy Woods


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2019:

Hi Dale,

"Old Red" surely is a spectacular looking building.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on April 24, 2019:

Well that is one fine looking building. I hope the people that get to see it in person appreciate how much of a treat it is to be able to enjoy such places. When I have to pass by the square blocks of city buildings it depresses me. Luckily I live on a boat!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2019:

Hi again Roberta,

You are correct in that the subject of architecture overlaps many other subjects worth studying.

RTalloni on April 04, 2019:

Yes, architecture is useful to home educators for it overlaps math, history, reading, art... Besides that, I love it myself. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 03, 2019:

Hi Roberta,

Yes, this UTMB Medical School campus in Galveston is huge. Nice that you are encouraging your oldest grandson in art. Architecture makes for some great subjects!

RTalloni on April 03, 2019:

Such a beautiful building. Enjoyed seeing your linocut. My oldest grandson has an bent toward architecture and I keep my eye out for special points of interest for him.

84 acres! A campus visit would be impressive!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 05, 2018:

Hi Rajan,

Happy to be able to share things of interest in this part of the world with you. That is one nice thing about the Internet. We all get to see things virtually that we might not ever get a chance to see in person. Old Red is indeed a beautiful building in Galveston.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 04, 2018:

Your tourist destination articles are very informative. Really very thankful to you for sharing the history and photos of places I can only visit virtually.

The Old Red is just magnificent and so is your linocut art prints of the same.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 04, 2018:

Hi Shyron,

Thanks for the compliment on my linocut of "Old Red" in Galveston. You should try your hand at it! I have also enjoyed drawing and painting through the years. There is certainly an endless amount of things to do here in the Houston metro area.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 03, 2018:

Peggy, I love your linocut, that is something I would love to do that. I love to draw and I have done one oil painting, I love are. I think I would enjoy spending some time in Houston.

Blessings my dear friend.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 09, 2018:

Hi Linda,

Thanks for the complement on my linocut art. Galveston is certainly a fun city to visit and we have done so often through the years. Happy to be able to share some information about it with you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2018:

Hi RedElf,

Nice to know that after reading this you will put Galveston, Texas on your bucket list.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 08, 2018:

The building is lovely and so is your linocut. You are a talented artist, Peggy. Thank for for enabling me to learn about Galveston.

RedElf from Canada on May 08, 2018:

Another beautiful linocut. Galveston is SO on my bucket list :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2018:

Hi Lela,

I am sorry to hear about your brother's death and the cause. The sun can certainly cause problems later on in life from skin exposure.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on May 08, 2018:

Hi Peggy. Yes, my first visit to Galveston was in the late 60s, so you can imagine the changes. I loved the ferry and the drive on, camp out beaches. Now, not so much. I came close to going to the marine biology program there, but I am fair skinned and hate to smear on sun block.

My brother died 3 years ago from skin cancer, the bain of my family's existance. So, no more shrimp for me. He also worked on the tug boats in the ship channel.

I live in Austin now, but I remember growing up in Houston and the surrounding areas.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2018:

Hi manatita44,

I'm happy to be able to show you some of Galveston via my art and articles. It is nice having Galveston located not far from Houston so that it makes for an easy day trip back and forth.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2018:

Hi Lela,

You have probably seen many changes since visiting Galveston as a child yet the Strand and core of the city with its historic buildings remains pretty much the same. Does your brother still own a shrimp boat?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2018:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Thanks for the complement regarding my art. This particular building on the UTMB campus is so gorgeous. I just wanted to capture some of it in one of my linocuts.

manatita44 from london on May 08, 2018:

Peggy your art is awesome!

Galveston seems a really interesting place. You and Lori seem to bring it alive. You are graced or blessed to be in such environment. Educational and inspiring Hub.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on May 07, 2018:

I went to Galveston so much when I was young and lived in Houston. my brother lived inLeague City and had a shrimp boat. I never tired of the island.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2018:

Hi Bill,

I am happy to know that you are enjoying these articles about Galveston. I'll be sharing much more about places in and around the Houston metro area in the future.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2018:

Hi Louise,

Galveston, Texas is indeed a lovely place. Hope you get to visit it someday.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2018:

Hi Frank,

Stay tuned! There is a lot more to come! Texas is a huge state with so much to offer visitors. I am happy you are enjoying my pieces written about Galveston.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2018:

Hi Mary,

It is a delight to be able to share this with you. You share so many wonderful places with us in your articles.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 07, 2018:

Peggy, you’re opening up new worlds for some of us. Love your artwork too!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 07, 2018:

I'm a big architecture fan, and that building is spectacular. I've never been to Texas; probably never will; so it's nice of you to show me around.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on May 07, 2018:

Galveston looks a lovely place. I'd love to visit there. I love the photos.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 07, 2018:

Peggy, I think I'm going to take Texas off my bucket list...I'm just gonna read your hubs and pretend I was there...:) you are so informative.. the beaches look fantastic... so yep.. I was there! LOL---Stewart Beach...

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 07, 2018:

I am getting to know Galveston through your hubs and I am enjoying it. Next time I am in the area, I will definitely check this out.

Related Articles