In June 1865, while being occupied by Confederate soldiers, a fire started in the Strand district that eventually made its way to Post Office and Tremont Streets. The fire burned for days, during which time the original Tremont House was completely destroyed. It would remain in ruins for five years before it was rebuilt.
The rebuilt Tremont House opened in February 1872, though renovations and additions would continue for over a decade. During that time, architects Fred S. Stewart, Nicholas J. Clayton (who is the architect of some of Galveston's grandest homes), and Eugene T. Heiner contributed to the final design, which expanded the hotel by a half block and added two stories as well as a mansard tower. It also boasted a steam-powered passenger elevator, the only one of its kind in Galveston at the time.
This new and improved Tremont House once again attracted the rich and powerful, among them six sitting U.S. Presidents: Rutherford Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, James Garfield, and Chester Arthur.