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[photo] Bishop's Palace
Photo courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation
The Bishop's Palace is an extreme example of the exuberance of the eclectic late Victorian architectural taste in America. Architect Nicholas J. Clayton of Galveston created bold effects and strongly modulated facades in many of his churches and commercial buildings of the period, and here released all restraint. There is an emphatic irregularity to the building, emphasized by an energetic and varied facade, and the roofline is crested with towers, tall chimneys and heavy ornament. The house was built for Walter Gresham, a prominent lawyer, Texas legislator and Representative to the 53rd Congress. Gresham was born in 1841 in King and Queen County, Virginia, into a family of planters and notable lawyers. During the Civil War, he served as a private in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1863, studied law and was admitted to the bar. When family fortunes were ruined by the war, he moved to Texas, and landed in Galveston December 31, 1866, with five dollars. He opened a law office, and in October of 1868 he married Josephine Mann. In 1872 Gresham was elected District Attorney for Galveston and Brazoria counties and in 1875 became involved in the railroad business. Gresham's affluence increased as his participation in civic life developed and in 1887, the same year he was elected to the Texas Legislature, he commissioned Clayton to design his grand mansion. The Greshams formally opened their home on January 1, 1893. In 1923 the Galveston-Houston Diocese of the Catholic Church purchased the Gresham House for $40,500. The mansion became the Bishop's Palace when the Most Reverend Christopher C. E. Byrne lived there until his death in 1950. The Catholic Church turned the Palace over to the Newman Club in 1963, and three months later, the diocese opened the building to the public.

Bishop's Palace, within the East End Historic District, is located at 1402 Broadway St. in Galveston. The house is open daily in the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday-Saturday from 10:00am to 4:30pm, and on Sunday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. During the winter (Labor Day to Memorial Day) the house is open daily 12:00pm to 4:00pm. Tours are offered every half hour and there is a fee for admission. For further information call 409-762-2475.


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