he Bishop’s Palace (a.k.a. Gresham House) is a contributing building in the East End Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places at the national level of significance in the area of architecture. Architectural historians list the Bishop’s Palace (Gresham House) as one of the most significant of Victorian residences in the country.
Over the next few months, visitors to the Bishop’s Palace will see GHF’s latest preservation project that includes new electrical wiring, updated historical paint colors, window repair, foundation work and stained glass repair. Additional work is planned on the tile roof though GHF is now verifying the source and manufacturer of the roof tiles…read more
The house was built from 1887 to 1892 for Colonel Walter Gresham and his wife Josephine, with whom he had nine children. An attorney and entrepreneur, Gresham came to Galveston from Virginia following his service in the Civil War. He was a founder of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad, eventually working to bring about the merger of the Santa Fe with the Atchison and Topeka Railroad. He also served in the Texas Legislature.
Nicholas Clayton designed the house. The small lot and oversized house make it an anomaly among similar houses of its period and architectural style. It is Victorian; however, it is more specifically described as Chateausque given the intricate combination of materials, cast iron galleries and complex roof system. Chateausque is a derivative of the French Revival popularized in the latter part of the 19th century by Richard Morris Hunt. Nicholas Clayton, however, expanded on the style by using varicolored and irregularly shaped stone, round Romanesque and depressed Tudor arches with heavily articulated carvings of vegetation, animals, people, and imaginary creatures. Constructed of steel and stone (it survived the Great Storm of 1900 virtually unscathed), the Bishop’s Palace soars three stories over a raised basement level, with steep roofs and long sculptural chimneys. Typical of Clayton, he used a combination of simple geometric forms in bold massing to create an additional dramatic effect. In Galveston’s great period of mansion building – the 1870s, 80s and 90s – Gresham’s commission of Nicholas Clayton, Galveston’s premier architect, resulted in Clayton’s most spectacular residential design and arguably the finest of the “Broadway beauties.”
The interior spaces are grand with exotic materials such as a pair of Sienna marble columns flanking the entrance hall. The first floor rooms have fourteen foot ceilings that are coved and coffered. An octagonal mahogany stairwell is forty feet tall with stained glass on five sides. The stair is lit by a large octagonal skylight. A massive fireplace in the front parlor is made of Santo Domingo mahogany. The house includes abundant stained glass, wood carvings, and decorative plaster ceilings and walls.
1402 Broadway, 409-762-2475 or e-mail us
Hours (last entrance 45 minutes before posted closing time)
10 am – 5 pm Sunday-Friday
10 am – 6 pm on Saturday
Please note: Bishop’s Palace will be closed on Easter Sunday and will close at 2pm on April 18th.
Guided Tours Seven Days a Week
Effective May 1, 2015 – Guided tour will be held at 1:30 p.m. daily.
September-March, Guided Tours may not always be available during the week. Self-Guided Audio Tours are available during all operating hours.
Basement to Attic Tours
Self-Guided Audio Tours Seven Days a Week
10am – 5pm ( last entrance 45 minutes before posted closing time)
Adults $12 ($2 is donated to Save America’s Treasures to restore the roof)
Youth (6 through18) $7
Children 5 and under, free
Adult prearranged group tours [20 or more people] $8.00 per person
Broadway Beauties Tickets
Discounted tickets are now available for admission to Galveston’s historic 1892 Bishop’s Palace and the 1895 Moody Mansion. The Broadway Beauties ticket admits one adult to both of these popular attractions for $18. Tickets can be purchased at both Moody Mansion and Bishop’s Palace. For ticket and tour information, call 409-762-2475.
Basement to Attic Tours
Offering participants a rare look into parts of the 1892 home that are typically off-limits, the Basement to Attic tour returns this weekend to Bishop’s Palace, 1402 Broadway. One of the highlights of the tour, Mrs. Gresham’s studio, offers visitors a truly one of a kind view of the Gulf of Mexico from the house’s third floor.
$30 per person.
Immerse yourself in history and support the Galveston Historical Foundation. Private Tours of Bishop’s Palace are designed to provide an in-depth, detailed look at the house, Gresham family history, unique artifacts and more. An expert guide will take you through the house and will tailor the tour based on your interests.
Private Tour: $50 per person. Reservations must be made one week in advance, limit 6.
Private Behind the Scenes Tours: $80 per person. Reservations must be made one week in advance, limit 6.
Reservations for private tours, call 409-762-2475.
The Shop At The Palace
Visit The Shop At The Palace where you will find many one-of-a-kind kind items. We have the largest selection of Galveston and Texas history books on the island. Also, you will find Galveston Historical Foundation Dickens on the Strand and Historic Homes Tour merchandise. We carry an array of Victorian-themed items, Bishop’s Palace souvenirs, Christmas books, magnets, spoons, ornaments and thimbles, locally made candles and jewelry, and a great selection of teas and related items.
Bishop’s Palace also makes a fine setting for wedding photography by arrangement. (Tour visitors are not allowed to take photographs.)
For rental information, call (409) 765-3402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you spare just two mornings or afternoons a month? Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet others who share interests and to spend time in Galveston’s most prestigious and authentic Victorian home, Bishop’s Palace. Volunteers with an interest in history and who enjoy working with a diverse range of people are needed. People who can spare just two mornings or afternoons a month and love history and architecture are perfect candidates! Learn more about volunteering at Bishop’s Palace.
Bishop’s Palace recruits volunteers who enjoy working with the public and assisting visitors to share the Museum’s history and collection with the general public. Tour Guides greet visitors to the Museum and provide tours of the house to visitors of all ages. They also provide a vital link between the history of the house and its visitors. Guides are expected to commit 2 weekdays (Monday-Friday) or 1 weekend day (Saturday-Sunday) per month for 4 hour shifts. Volunteers receive extensive training and ongoing enrichment is provided. Volunteers may also choose to guide for Group Tours. Guides are required to complete and a five week guide training, submit to a background check and must be 16 or older.
VISITOR SERVICE VOLUNTEERS
Provide a vital link between the history of Bishop’s Palace and its visitors. VSVs greet visitors to the Museum and introduce them to the Victorian period while awaiting a tour as well as during the Self-Guided Tour and Public Programs. VSVs answer visitor questions about the neighborhood and Bishop’s Palace, and may assist with self-guided tours.
Continuing education programs
Invitations and discounts to lectures, programs and special events
15% off on merchandise in Galveston Historical Foundation Museum Shops
Annual recognition party
The chance to make connections with people who are interested in the same things that you are!
Update-September 2014, our handicap access is under construction. Until construction is completed we do not have a ramp for wheelchair or walker accessibility.
Galveston Historical Foundation is committed to making our programs and historic sites special needs accessible. However, at this time, Bishop’s Palace is not fully accessible to those with physical disabilities. At Bishop’s Palace we can provide an audio tour with photographs and a written transcript of the tour. The Bishop’s Palace is not yet wheelchair accessible. If you have special needs contact 409-762-2475 or 409-765-3410 or send an email to email@example.com in advance to your visit to make arrangements.
Bishop’s Palace is a privately owned and operated historic site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.