Located at 1402 Broadway is the most photographed house and landmark on Galveston Island known by residents and tourist alike as Bishop's Palace. Designed by famous architect Nicholas J. Clayton at an estimated cost of nearly $250,000 Bishop's Palace took over 6 years to build. Attorney and polotician Colonel Walter Gresham and his wife Josephine used to refer to the house as "Gresham Castle" and the building is considered one of the most important Victorian structures constructed in the United States.
Over three-stories high the main house is built over a raised basement in the Châteauesque style (derived from the French revival style). It was constructed from carved limestone (accented with red sandstone, red granite, and gray granite) and steel frame (making the outer walls, including interior wood paneling, twenty-three inches thick). The facade features elaborate carvings of people, plants, animals, and mythical creatures. It has steep roofs and tall turret-like chimney.
Stained glass windows, magnificent fireplaces (one lined in pure silver), wood floors, exquisite paneling, and a majestic wooden staircase distinguish the interior of the 7,500 square foot home. Rare woods constitute much of the elaborate carved features throughout the house, and most of the luxurious furniture is original. Born in Virginia in 1841, Walter Gresham enlisted in the Twenty-fourth Virginia Cavalry at the beginning of the War Between the States, later serving in other regiments. In 1863, he was graduated from the law department of the University of Virginia, and late in 1866 moved to Galveston, Texas, to practice law.
Born in Virginia in 1841, Walter Gresham enlisted in the Twenty-fourth Virginia Cavalry at the beginning of the War Between the States, later serving in other regiments. In 1863, he was graduated from the law department of the University of Virginia, and late in 1866 moved to Galveston, Texas, to practice law. Among many important activities and positions, he was elected district attorney for Galveston and Brazoria counties; was director of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway (as well as its second vice president); served in the Texas legislature (1887 to 1891); and was elected to Congress in 1892 but did not win re-election. He returned to the practice of law in Galveston. He died in Washington, D.C., on November 6, 1920, and is buried in Galveston in Lakeview Cemetery.
In 1923, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston-Houston (which in 2004 became an archdiocese) bought the Gresham home for $40,500 the, which sits across the street from the Sacred Heart Church, and for many years it was the residence of the bishop, Christopher Edward Byrne. In 1963, following the removal of the offices of the diocese to Houston, the diocese opened the home to the public. It has been managed as a museum by the Galveston Historical Foundation since December 2007.
Its rumored that Walter Gresham is still very protective of his home. The ghost of Mr. Gresham has been seen moving around the outside of the house making certain all is secure. His ghost seems to become more active during a storm or hurricane. Witnesses have reported seeing an apparition of a man pacing back and forth in front of the front door and around the curved porch nervously before just disappearing into the large wood front doors.
Witnesses have also reported someone pushing, tripping, punching, and scratching them while they stand in front of the house, photograph the house from the median, or pass by in front of the home. Is this the overprotective spirit of Mr. Gresham or someone / something far more sinister?
Bishop's Palace is rumored to be quite active with spirits. There is a card box that belonged to Josephine Gresham that is rumored to move from room to room randomly. Mrs. Gresham traveled extensively in her life and always mailed a post card home from her travels to add to the box which held her collection. Josephine Gresham loved to entertain and often shared her post cards as a way of bragging of the places she had been. The card box moves around the house from time to time and still contains cards that were mailed home by Josephine Gresham.