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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.

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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 at the bottom of this page.

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

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