J.P. Bryan, Jr., a native Texan and lateral descendant of Stephen F. Austin, has been involved in the energy and investment industries for more than five decades. He began his career in investment banking serving as Assistant Treasurer for J. P. Morgan (1966-69), Executive Vice-President and Director of Dominick & Dominick, Inc. (1969-74), President and CEO of The Mortgage Banque (1974-78), and First Vice-President of E.F. Hutton & Company and Director of Investment Banking-Southwest Region (1978-81). Navigating to the energy sector, J.P. served as Chairman & CEO of Torch Energy Advisors (1981-2012), CEO at Bellwether Exploration (1987-97), CEO of Nuevo Energy (1990-95), and President and CEO of Gulf Canada Resources Ltd. (1995-98). Among his numerous business awards are Texas Entrepreneur of the Year (1994) and Canadian Oil Producer of the Year (1995).
The University of Texas has been a much-favored institution in the Bryan family – J.P.’s father attended UT where he received his JD and later served on UT’s Board of Regents, and J.P’s daughter and wife both attended UT. J.P. received his B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin (1958-62); his LLB from The University of Texas Law School at Austin (1963-65); and his BFT from the American Institute of Foreign Trade at Phoenix, Arizona (1966). While at UT, J.P. was President of his law school and was a member of the Honor Society Council and founder of the International Law Society. He also started a rare book and printing business at UT, the Pemberton Press which published and reprinted books on Texas history, such as the first biography of Frank Dobie and Frank Hamer; it was then that his passion for collecting Texana and Texas art expanded. Over the years, Bryan has purchased important art and artifacts important to the history of the settlement of the West and Texas.
J. P. has also devoted much of his life to his passion for historic preservation. He has been president of both the Texas Historical Foundation and the Texas State Historical Association and was appointed commissioner for the Texas Historical Commission by Governor George Bush. He served on the advisory board for the Brazoria County Historical Museum and was the chairman of the board for the Institute of Texan Cultures. He received an award for historical preservation from the Museum of Southern History, the Wheat Award for historical preservation from the Texas Historical Foundation, the Stephen F. Austin Leadership Award from the Brazoria County Museum, the Briscoe Achievement Award from the National Western Art Foundation, accolades from Architectural Digest, the T.R. Fehrenbach Award for distinguished service and contribution to the promotion and preservation of Texas history, was named a Texas State Historical Association Fellow in 2012, received Preservation Houston’s Good Brick Award in 2013, was presented with the Star of Texas Award by the Texas Historical Foundation in January 2014, and named Houston History Hero 2015 by the Houston History Association. In 2016 J.P. was made a Commissioned Admiral in the Texian Navy and in 2017 was awarded the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Historic Preservation Medal.
In 2019, Texas Governor Abbott appointed J.P. to the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County Ports. On April 7, 2021, the City of Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, signed a proclamation proclaiming, “J.P. Bryan, Jr. Day”.
Over the years, J.P. has given, and continues to give, hundreds of speeches to various groups on the history of Texas and the American West. He has written numerous booklets and book introductions, including one on the history of Lonesome Dove and another about artist Tom Lea. Just recently, after years of extensive research, J.P. submitted his book for publication concerning the Texas Revolution and the Battle of San Jacinto. He is currently working on compiling material for 5 books regarding various aspects and personalities of Texas history.
J. P. and his wife Mary Jon spent two decades restoring the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas, and recently completed restoration of that town’s oldest building, constructed by the town’s founder, Captain Albion Shepard. The Gage Hotel has been awarded several distinctions: Geographic Travel Magazine “Stay List”,voted the#1 Hotel in Texas and #17 in the United States by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, and the hotel’s famous White Buffalo Barwas selected by Texas Monthly Magazineas“Best Hotel Bar”in Texas. J.P. and Mary Jon have overseen the restoration of 26 buildings in the town of Marathon.
In October 2013, J.P. purchased the 1895 Galveston Orphans Home in Galveston, Texas. Today, the restored building houses The Bryan Museum and contains the world’s largest collection of over 70,000 rare artifacts, documents, maps, and works of art relating to the history of the American West. The Bryan Museum was presented the Texas Historical Commission’s John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums in September of 2016, and also in that year was named the “Best Art Gallery” by the Galveston Daily News, the “Best of the Island “Gold” Award for the Best Museum” by Galveston.com, and named the “Best Attraction” by the Texas Travel Industry Association/Texas Department of Transportation. In 2017, the Museum was given the Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Art Gallery and Museum” by the Galveston Daily News, voted “Best of the Island “Gold” Award for Best Wedding Venue” by Galveston.com, and was again voted “Best of the Island “Gold” Award for Best Museum” by the Galveston Daily News. The following year in 2018, the Museum was again voted “Best of the Island “Gold” Award for Best Museum” by the Galveston.com and received the Reader’s Choice Award as “Best Art Gallery & Museum” by the Galveston Daily News. In addition to the restoration of the Galveston Orphans Home, J. P. and Mary Jon recently restored 3 historical homes in the city of Galveston.