Monday, March 30, 2015

Bishop's Palace - 3/30/15

Today we did the self-guided tour of Bishop's Palace, a beautiful Victorian-style home built between 1886-1893 by Colonel Walter Gresham, a civic leader and US Congressman that relocated to Galveston from Virginia. He and his wife, Josephine, lived here with their nine children. In 1923, the Catholic Diocese bought the home and the bishop resided here (hence the current name).

It is an ornate 17,420 square foot residence constructed of steel and stone at a cost of $250,000 at the time. It survived the Great Storm of 1900, virtually unscathed. Today it is valued at $5.5M.

The entrance is in the basement of the house to the left of the main steps. It is also a lovely gift shop with unique gifts.

An audio device is provided for the self-guided tour with 19 designated stops through the first two floors of the house. The cost is included in the admission fee ($10/adult).

The first room on the tour is the amazing Stair Hall. The octagonal mahogany stairwell is 40' tall with stained glass on five sides.

The stained glass in the front doors in the Entrance Hall are original (and beautiful!) The ceilings on the first floor are 14' tall and the floors of the Entrance Hall are gorgeous.

The Music Hall with a silver and onyx mantel that won first price in an 1886 New Orleans Exhibition. The portraits are of Walter and Josephine Gresham.

There is another beautiful fireplace in the Parlor. This carved piece is a basket used to collect the card of visitors that came to call. The next day, the cards were used to log the names of all visitors to the home.

I loved this piece of is a postcard box. This was a common item in Victorian homes as it served as a photograph book where postcards of family trips were kept. You can see that the interior of the box had compartments to hold postcards as well as an intricately carved top.


Dining Room.


Butler's Pantry and Serving Kitchen (the primary kitchen was originally in the basement).

The Servant's Vestibule contained a dumbwaiter (subsequently converted to a small elevator), the call box (family members could push a button upstairs that would ring downstairs) and the back stairway (used by the kids and servants).

Bishop's Bedroom. This was originally a bedroom of one of the Gresham daughters, but when the Bishop moved into the home after the Diocese purchased it, he converted the closed into a bathroom and used this as his bedroom.

Another daughter's bedroom was converted into a Chapel in the 1920s with beautiful stained glass windows and painting on the ceiling.

Mr. Gresham's Bedroom including a view from the balcony.

Mrs. Gresham's Bedroom and bathroom. Note that the bathtub has three faucets: hot, cold, and rainwater (because rainwater is preferred for washing hair!)

The third floor was not open to the public, but there are three additional bedrooms (that the boys used when the Greshams lived in the house), a parlor, and a studio that Mrs. Gresham (an accomplished artist) used.

We were so impressed by the beauty of this home. What a pleasant experience to see this place. It's wonderful that the historical foundation of Galveston continues to manage and maintain this piece of history.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

East End Historical District Homes - 3/28/15

While on the self-guided Tree Sculpture Tour, we came across many beautiful and historic homes. Here are some of them that can be seen in the area (if you're interested in that kind of thing.) Of course, all of these homes have been restored, repaired since Hurricane Ike, and well maintained today.

Adolph Dolson Home (c 1907)

The Maas House (c 1886)

Heidenheimer's Castle (c 1857)

Julius H. Ruhl Residence (c 1874)

Thomas Chubb House (c 1850s)

Best-Lucas House (c 1860s)

George Washington Chapter - DAR (c 1895)

Frederich-Erhard House (c 1894)

Maud Moller House (c 1890s)

Wilbur Cherry House (c 1852)

Lander-McDonough House (c 1887)

National Historic Landmark - East End Historical District (1976)

National Historic Landmark - East End Historic District (1978)

Seeing these historic homes was just an added, and unexpected, bonus of the Tree Sculpture Tour. It is wonderful that so many private citizens have invested and continue to invest in the restoration and maintenance of these beautiful homes. I am sure there are many more beautiful homes in the area, but these are the ones we happened upon during the self-guided, walking, Tree Sculpture Tour. Not knowing much about the local town history of Galveston, I had no idea this lovely neighbor was located here. Just lovely.