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Historic Bishop’s Palace: A Must-See Galveston Attraction

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

The Bishop's Palace in Galveston, Texas

The Bishop's Palace in Galveston, Texas

Daytripping From Houston

A day trip to Galveston Island is always pleasant when the temperatures in Houston are sizzling. It is almost always degrees cooler down there with saltwater breezes blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico.

A Galveston attraction worth seeing while visiting there is the amazing Bishop’s Palace. It is easy to spot this Victorian beauty after coming over the I-45 causeway bridge and traveling down the main street of Broadway. The Gulf of Mexico beaches lie straight ahead.

The Bishop’s Palace is situated on the left-hand side of the street. Directly across from it is the dazzling white Moorish designed Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The address is 1402 Broadway. If one does not grab your attention the other structure surely will! This is one of numerous beautiful and historic buildings on Galveston Island.

Galveston Attraction

Walter Gresham was a Texas lawyer and politician. He commissioned noted Galveston architect Nicolas Clayton to design a home for him and his family. Nicolas Clayton also designed many of the other magnificent structures on the island. The home was completed in 1893.

Throughout the years I have had the occasion to tour it numerous times. Vividly do I remember my dad’s admiration for the use of the various woods utilized in constructing this house. My dad truly appreciated wood and what could be made from it. He was a proficient carpenter who had built the first home I remember when I was a child. He also built some of our furniture. I still own a desk that he had constructed. For many years he was a home builder. My dad was also a Realtor.

Mahogany, satinwood, rosewood and other types of wood can be viewed as paneling in different rooms. My dad admired the fact that each side of a door was faced with the same wood matching the paneling in each room. Quite an eye for detail was exhibited when building this fine home.

Magnificent stained glass windows are to be seen throughout this mansion.

Fireplaces originating from many places worldwide were transported to this home. One of the fireplace mantles won first place in the Philadelphia World’s Fair in 1876. This predated the building of the Gresham mansion and undoubtedly no expense was spared in acquiring it for use in his home.

Upon the high ceiling located over the dining room table, sweet little cherub faces were painted. Each child from the Gresham family served as subject matter for those cherub images.

This was one of the first homes in Galveston that had electricity among many other innovations. It was constructed solidly and was built to last. It survived the devastating 1900 hurricane that swept over this city killing some 10,000 to 12,000 people. Many of those people who died were never found. To this very day, it is listed as the deadliest natural disaster in American history.

The Bishop's Palace

So why is it called the Bishop’s Palace? In 1923 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased the Gresham mansion for use as its bishop’s residence. Later the archdiocese was moved to Houston.

In 1963 the Bishop’s Palace was opened to the public for tours. The ticket prices help maintain this Victorian beauty which is well worth the time and effort to see. Architects love viewing this building. So do people who enjoy the high-caliber Victorian decor from the late 19th century.

Guided tours are made available seven days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM. The docents leading these tours are friendly and knowledgeable. Personally, every time I have taken another tour I have spotted things that were missed in previous visits. There is so much to look at and admire!

Admission Fees and Tours

At the current time, general admission ticket prices are $14 for adults, $9 for ages 6 to 18, and children aged 5 and under are admitted free of charge. Numerous other tours including Full Moon Tours, Basement to Attic Tours and Victorian Teas are given at the Bishop's Palace.

To see those prices, including other special events held there plus the charges for them, check the Bishop's Palace website.

National Register of Historic Places

Galveston, Texas has six historic districts with some 60 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At one time it was the capital of the Republic of Texas. Many influential people lived and did business there.

My husband, mother and I have gone to Galveston for their historic home tours. Whether it is a mansion like the Bishop’s Palace or smaller residences being viewed one thing is certain. The people of Galveston love their unique spot in Texas history. They also relish the ambiance and culture of what Galveston has to offer visitors as well as its residents. No hurricanes can permanently dampen their spirits!

Decorative design elements on the facade of "Bishop's Palace," also known as Gresham's Castle, an ornate Victorian-style house, located on Broadway and 14th Street in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas

Decorative design elements on the facade of "Bishop's Palace," also known as Gresham's Castle, an ornate Victorian-style house, located on Broadway and 14th Street in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas

My Linocut Art

Over the years I have been privileged to be a participant as the featured artist in five one person art shows in Galveston, Texas. My linocut art, as well as some other mediums, have been featured. Because of this, I have chosen as subject matter some of the wonderful buildings in this fair city as subject matter.

A portion of an architectural feature of the Bishop’s Palace was created back in the year 2004. The linoleum faced block was hand carved with sharp gouging tools. Each print was then individually created after inking the block and pressing each piece of acid-free paper onto it.

Each of my limited edition prints is an original with slight variation from print to print. They are numbered and signed after which the block is purposely defaced.

Galveston has a once a month artwalk. Many galleries and other venues such as restaurants participate in showing original creations from different artists.

If you are a lover of arts and architecture a trip to Galveston is sure to please. There are the beaches and other venues which can keep you as busy or as relaxed as you wish. Whether spending just a day or more while on vacation, numerous Galveston attractions are available to be enjoyed.

Original linoleum cut art print I created of the Bishop’s Palace

Original linoleum cut art print I created of the Bishop’s Palace


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: When was the Bishop's Palace built?

Answer: According to the Galveston Historical Foundation, the date of completion for the Bishop's Palace is 1892.

© 2018 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2019:

Hi Dale,

In the Houston summers, all we can hope for is an occasional front coming from the north that cools it off temporarily. A trip to Galveston with the salt water breezes is also a respite. If you come to Texas, there is so much to see and do while here. Plan to spend some time in order to enjoy it.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on April 27, 2019:

Your opening description reminds me of my own home town. It's hot in temperature but has an almost chill breeze blowing in off the ocean and it is perfect. I'm adding this hub as another reason for me n the missus to make our way to Texas.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2019:

Hi Aurelio,

You will truly enjoy seeing the Bishop's Palace in person someday. It is one of many historic and interesting places to visit in Galveston.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on March 18, 2019:

Beautiful, especially for its grandeur. Will put this on my list of must-visit places for Texas.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 05, 2018:

Hello Malcolm,

It is wonderful that you have seen this beautiful home in person. Just describing it does not do it justice. Thanks for your comment.

Malcolm Wilks on November 05, 2018:


I saw this beautiful home on my first visit to Galveston, Texas. It is always great to see a piece of history being so preserved.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2018:

Hi C E Clark,

I have also seen some courthouses that are suggestive of similar forms of architecture or use of stonework on the outsides of the buildings. Thanks for pinning this! The Bishop's Palace is well worth visiting if ever in the Galveston area.

C E Clark from North Texas on May 30, 2018:

I love your article on linoart and all the different projets you have showcased here. I continue to have it listed on one of my arts and crafts boards on Pinterest.

This building makes me think of the courthouse on the square here where I live just north of DFW. It's by no means a twin, but it is very suggestive of the same kind of architecture.

A wonderful article that can only help visitors to this Bishop's Palace enjoy and appreciate their tour even more!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

Hi Patricia,

If you ever again visit Galveston perhaps you will have the time to visit the Bishop's Palace and some of the other sites there as well. As a carpenter and then a home builder + Realtor, my dad did appreciate different types of wood and good construction.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 21, 2018:

O another place my sister and I must visit. Obviously we did no sightseeing when we were there last. How interesting for you that your father shared the types of wood with you. It helps you to look at wooden structures and furniture with a learned eye.

Once again celestial and earthly Angels are on the way bringing love and hugs and blessings. ps

Robert Sacchi on May 17, 2018:

Perhaps, who knows.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2018:

Hi Holle,

I hope that you do get a chance to visit Texas someday. There are many places in Galveston that I am sure you would like to visit if the Bishop's Palace sparks your interest.

Holle Abee from Georgia on May 17, 2018:

Wow. I'd love to see this place! Maybe I'll get to Texas one day. It's on my bucket list.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2018:

Should you ever travel this way again be sure to visit not only Galveston but Houston as well. Would be fun to meet you.

Robert Sacchi on May 16, 2018:

I should have taken a trip there when I had the chance.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2018:

Hi Robert,

Yes Galveston is filled with historic sites with 60 of them listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

Robert Sacchi on May 15, 2018:

I didn't realize Galveston had so many historic sites.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2018:

Hi Jackie,

I am sure that the Bishop's Palace will be preserved for a long time to come. Renovations are regularly done and ticket prices help to defray the costs of maintaining this beautiful piece of architecture.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on May 04, 2018:

What an amazing place. I hope nothing in life comes to the point that we have these treasures destroyed or misused!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2018:

Hi agusfanani,

Thanks for appreciating my artistic creation in linocut form of the Bishop's Palace. It is an amazing piece of architecture.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2018:

Hi Frank,

I am sure you would enjoy seeing this beautiful piece of architecture in person should you ever get the chance.

agusfanani from Indonesia on May 01, 2018:

Bishops Palace is an amazing palace and the interior designs proved that it was owned by a person who had excellent taste in architecture. Your creation in linoleum art is very beautiful and it shows your deep love in that historical place.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 01, 2018:

You bring to light details of these historical visits.. this palace is pleasingly draining.. I'm sure I'd love every bit of it.. and you giving us the insights really help .. thanks Peggy Woods

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2018:

Hi Peg,

It is interesting that your grandmother came through the Galveston port. Back in 1902 after the hurricane of 1900 that killed so many people and ruined so many buildings it would still have been in recovery mode. Someday hopefully you will make a trip to see Galveston for yourself. Thanks for the complement on my art.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2018:

Hi manatita44,

Some of the stronger built structures in Galveston did survive the devastating hurricane in 1900. Repairs were made and numerous structures were then raised up higher. That was an amazing feat back in those days. Many people have probably heard the song "Galveston" and know of it just due to that fact.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2018:

Hi Linda,

Many of the places in Galveston have impressive architecture. Will be sharing more of these places in future posts.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on April 30, 2018:

This photo tour of Galveston Historic places was fantastic. I have longed to visit the Galveston area since researching my family history and discovering that my grandmother arrived at Galveston port in 1902. I can only imagine the wonder when she saw these structures in the area. Coming from Vienna, it must have looked like home. Your photos are wonderfully detailed and so is your Linocut artwork.

manatita44 from london on April 30, 2018:

I have heard a lot about it through the song and other sources. They did well to survive this storm!

A very beautiful place and your art is cool.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 30, 2018:

The architecture is impressive. This would be a very interesting place to visit. I love your art, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2018:

Hi Mary,

Hopefully your travels will take you in this direction someday so that you can see the Bishop's Palace and other places of note in Galveston, Texas.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2018:

Hello rdsparrowriter,

Thanks for the complement on my artwork. I have quite a few linocuts of subjects in Galveston.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2018:

Hi Bill,

If the Rusk Mansion is similar to the Bishop's Palace...it is beautiful indeed! Does Tacoma have other structures worthy of such note? It would be interesting to learn more about the Rusk Mansion. Is it open for tours?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2018:

Hi Mary Norton,

When you next plan a trip to Houston from Ontario have your friends drive you to Galveston for a day or more of sightseeing. You will be amazed at the attractions down there. I will write about more of them in the future.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on April 30, 2018:

What a surprise this place is. To think that it was a politician and a lawyer who had it built. I would love to come and see it if I am passing through that part of Texas. I never realized Galveston had so much to offer.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2018:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

This is but one of many such structures in Galveston. I will be sharing information about more in upcoming posts. There is much to do and see in this historic city.

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on April 30, 2018:

Wow! You are very talented :) Interesting information :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 30, 2018:

Pretty amazing architecture. There is a very similar mansion in my home town of Tacoma...The Rusk Mansion....same stone, same lines...amazing!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 29, 2018:

Another place to see when I visit my friends in Texas. I wish I had read about this before. The details are extraordinary.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 29, 2018:

This was beautiful and your description and photos certainly inspired me to visit Galveston and its gorgeous attractions. I didn’t know you were an artist! What an honor to be included in their showcase.

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