The Bishop’s Palace in Galveston, Texas is one of the most beautiful and significant Victorian residences in the country

The Bishop’s Palace previously known as the Gresham’s Castle was built between 1887 and 1893 for the prominent lawyer Walter Gresham by the architect Nicholas J. Clayton. It is located in the East End Historic District of Galveston in Texas.

The 1, 772.8 m2 mansion is one of the most significant Victorian residences in the United States. Walter Gresham was born in Virginia in 1841 and graduated from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1863.

The Bishop’s Palace
It was built by the architect Nicholas J. Clayton  Photo Credit

During the Civil War, he served as a private in the Confederate army. He was admitted to the bar in 1867 and commenced his law practice in Galveston. In 1872 Gresham was elected as the District Attorney for Galveston and Brazoria counties.

Gresham became involved in the railroad business in 1875 and known as the founder of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad.

The house was built between 1887 and 1893   Photo Credit
Photography from 1970   Photo Credit

He commissioned Clayton to design his mansion in the same year when he was elected to the Texas Legislature. The Gresham’s Palace was formally opened in 1893.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased the house in 1923 for $40, 500. It is called the Bishop’s Palace because of the Reverend Christopher C. E. Byrne who lived there until his death in 1950. The most significant part that he added to the house is the chapel in the bedroom of Gresham’s eldest daughter.

The dining room
The music room

The house was built from Texas granite, red sandstone, and white limestone and it has four floors. There is also a basement which is followed by three formal floors. On the first floor, there is a dining room with a fresco on the ceiling, as well as the kitchen, the library, the music room, the Parlor, the Conservatory, and the Servant’s Vestibule. The Bishop’s bedroom and Gresham’s room are on the second floor, and on the third floor is Gresham’s art room.

In 2013, the mansion was purchased by the Galveston Historical Foundation   Photo Credit

The house was acquired by the Galveston Historical Foundation in 2013 and is managed as a museum. Self-guided tours are available every day. The American Institute of Architects has deemed it as one of the 100 most important buildings in America.

The most remarkable pieces are the several fireplaces inside the house from all over the world. According to Road Trippers, the mansion is recognized as one of America’s finest examples of Victorian exuberance and Gilded-Age extravagance. From all the architectural treasures in Galveston, the magnificent Bishop’s Palace is a must-see.

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