For Photo Friday this week, I just had to share a photo I took of the magnificent Bishop’s Palace in Galveston, Texas! This amazing architecture is across the street from Sacred Heart Church which I featured a couple of weeks ago for Photo Friday.
A little history about this grand palace: 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. 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.
The fascinating information of the history of Bishop’s Palace was found at the Galveston Historical Foundation’s website.