January 15, 2018
On Monday, January 15th, Ross and Rosmarie Dinyari, previous owners of the former Galveston Orphans Home, visited The Bryan Museum for the first time since selling it to J.P. and Mary Jon Bryan in 2013. Ross purchased the building in the late 1980s and spent much blood, sweat, and tears, and close to two million dollars to transform the then abandoned and dilapidated building into his exquisite private residence.
Ross moved to Houston in 1971 from Detroit to get away from the months of mud season typical there to explore the tropical south. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1967, worked in Milwaukee in Electronics, moved to Australia in early 1970, returned to Detroit for about a year then moved to Houston in the 80s. In Houston he founded RDA Service and Manufacturing serving downstream and heavy industries world-wide.
Due to his many global travels, Ross got the urge to buy a castle. He looked around Europe, primarily in France. On an unexpected trip to Galveston however, he fell in love with the culture and the historical aspect of the town and became interested in buying an historical building there. On a whim, a realtor wanted him to see the Galveston Orphans Home which had been taken back by the bank from a developer who had defaulted on his loan. When Ross saw the building, it was in terrible shape. The fencing was broken and drifters were living in the building. The copper roof had been stolen and the building was totally wet. Windows and doors were broken and trash was everywhere...
However, Ross can see through the mess of a place and visualize how it could look. The castles in France and Europe looked very nice from the outside, but inside they were a web of hallways, small rooms, and often very bad and unattractive construction or decoration. The Orphanage was different and Ross could see what it would look like with some time and effort, through the mess it seemed, to the grand lady it was. He decided to buy it.
It took 2 years and well over a million dollars to renovate the building to bring it back to the magnificent and beautiful structure it is. It took Fourteen 40-foot dumpsters of trash to empty the building. It took over 1,150 gallons of stripper to hand strip all the wood. With the copper roof gone, the floors were warped and the plaster moldy and broken...
Ross had many fund raisers and receptions at the Orphanage, which he called "TAVILLEH”. He estimates that since late 1988 when he bought the building he had over 25,000 visitors and guests at Tavilleh including many high-ranking individuals and foreign dignitaries, whom all would tell him never to sell his fabulous home.
When Ross was single, Tavilleh was his sanctuary and he never thought he would sell it. During the years he lived there, Ross hosted 5 weddings including his own in May of 1998. His beautiful German wife, Rosmarie, loved Tavilleh, but not as a home. Ross succumbed to his bride’s wishes of course and they moved away from Tavilleh in the late 90s.
Ross will tell you, the old orphanage is a solid masonry structure, built to withstand the likes of the 1900 Hurricane and, as it turned out, Hurricane Ike in 2008 which did a huge amount of damage in Galveston and virtually no damage to Tavilleh. Only six glass windows were broken or cracked from shutters which were loose. While the Stand was under eight feet of water, only one foot of water came in the basement at Tavilleh.
J.P. and Ross wandered the galleries of The Bryan Museum together sharing stories of their adventures restoring and transforming the building they both love into the splendid place it is today. Ross shared with everyone present that he long ago had a vision of his home one day becoming a library or a museum. Perhaps it was that dream that first drew J.P. to the old orphanage...
The Bryan Museum and all of us who value and treasure the building that, if she could talk would have so many stories to tell, owe a deep debt of gratitude to Ross Dinyari. Ross saved her, added a chapter to her history, and gave us the opportunity to be her voice, enabling us to tell the story of this grand and wonderful place that we now call The Bryan Museum.