Galveston Historical Foundation invites the public to a marker dedication, commemorating the Zimmermann telegram and Galveston’s role in the retransmission of the message, on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 11 a.m. Held at 1605 33rd Street, directly behind the 1838 Menard House, the dedication is free to attend.
In January of 1917, British intelligence intercepted and decrypted a secret telegram from German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann to the German envoy to Mexico. In it, Zimmermann offered the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to Mexico in return for joining the German cause. The British gave a copy of Zimmermann’s message to the U.S. government, which in turn leaked it to the press. On March 1st, the telegram made headline news in virtually every major American newspaper. Many Americans were outraged by the German plot to embroil their country in a war with Mexico, and on April 6th, the United States declared war against Germany.
“Shortly after the nation became aware of the telegram, the United States committed to entering World War I,” explains Dwayne Jones, Galveston Historical Foundation’s Executive Director. “Many historians believe that the telegram played a role in shifting public opinion against Germany.”
The small equipment and battery building, originally located at 1819 Avenue O, is an artifact of the Mexican Telegraph Company, early telegraph operations in Texas, and the Zimmermann telegram. In all likelihood, this small building, which housed batteries and equipment for transmission to and from Mexico, was the location for the retransmission of the Zimmermann telegram to Mexico in January 1917.
For much of the twentieth century, Italian immigrant Pompeo Urbani operated a grocery store on the site and utilized the building. In early 1995, with the building was in danger of demolition, preservationists Fred and Pat Burns cooperated with Galveston Historical Foundation to relocate it to land behind the 1838 Michel B. Menard House, where it still stands.