The three-story Hendley Buildings are the most imposing of the few pre–Civil War commercial houses surviving in downtown Galveston. Gray granite piers carry gray granite lintels, which span ground-floor openings and support the load-bearing red brick walls above. Six-over-nine-paned sash windows on the second floor contribute to the buildings' graceful proportions. Trabeated granite construction was not uncommon for large commercial houses in Savannah, Mobile, and New Orleans, but it was quite remarkable along the Texas coast and attests to the wealth generated by the slave-based sugar plantation economy of the Brazos River valley on the eve of the Civil War. By the time the Hendley Buildings were constructed, new, state-of-the-art commercial houses on Strand and other downtown streets were more likely to be faced with cast-iron fronts fabricated in Philadelphia and shipped to Galveston; the Hendleys' granite piers and lintels were probably shipped from New England.
Galveston preservationists Sally and Jack Wallace acquired the two west bays of the Hendley Buildings in 1968 and donated the westernmost to the Galveston Historical Foundation. The five-foot-wide extension to the west side wall of the Hendley Buildings is an addition by Taft Architects of Houston and structural engineer R. George Cunningham of 1979 that cleverly provided space for extra toilets and a fire stair while structurally shoring what had once been an interior party wall.