Welcome to Galveston Historical Foundation! We are one of the largest not-for-profit historic preservation organizations working at the local level in the country. That is a significant statement for Galveston Island, with a population of only 50,000. We are proud of our accomplishments and work hard to make the island an exciting tourist destination and a livable community for our residents. Our mission embraces the preservation and revitalization of historic properties as well as preserving maritime resources.
A visit to the island will introduce you to one of the largest collections of historic buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries in the nation. One of the island’s most important architectural properties is the Bishop’s Palace or Walter and Josephine Gresham House. This house, completed in 1892, represents Galveston’s prominence in architecture and commerce in the 19th century. The Texas Seaport Museum and its associated vessels include the 1877 barque ELISSA, the harbor tour boat Seagull II, and the Santa Maria, a historic shrimping vessel. These resources hold an international reputation that provide a glimpse into Galveston’s past as a major seaport for trade including cotton and other commodities. At the same time, thousands of immigrants, sailors, and visitors landed on the island in the 19th and 20th centuries, leaving a colorful impression on our local history. Almost all of them entered at our port. You can experience this history for yourself at any of our historic properties that we own or manage including the 1838 Michel Menard House, 1859 Ashton Villa, 1859 St. Joseph Catholic Church, 1858-59 Hendley Row, 1880 Garten Verein, 1892 Bishop’s Palace (Gresham House), and 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA.
From the waterfront to Strand to the residential streets of Galveston’s traditional neighborhoods, GHF is an active force in making positive change. We are preserving buildings, providing assistance to homeowners, and offering educational opportunities for children and adults. Our special events continue to attract thousands of visitors each year including the annual historic homes tour the first two weekends in May and Dickens on The Strand in December.
We hope you can come join us and experience firsthand our historic buildings or step aboard ELISSA. Galveston Island is the pride of Texas and an asset for our state and nation. You don’t want to miss what the Galveston Historical Foundation has to offer.