The Bishop’s Palace


Galveston, Texas

Client: The Galveston Historical Foundation

Scope of Services: Feasibility Study; Condition Assessment; Phased Restoration

The master work of Nicholas J. Clayton, prominent architect of the late-nineteenth century, The Bishop’s Palace is considered the finest house in Galveston. Designed in the formal and somewhat somber Chateauesque style of architecture popularized by Richard Morris Hunt and typically reserved for grand urban estates, this example broke convention. The house is nestled on a narrow lot while the design exhibits the exuberance of contrasting colors and wide variety of textures. The owner, Walter Gresham, was a prominent attorney, industrialist and Congressman who removed several houses to build Galveston’s most visible and glamorous residence on the most prominent street corner in the city.

Soon after completion of the house in 1892, the city suffered catastrophe during the devastating 1900 Storm; the storm surge was eventually stopped by a mound of debris just a block east of this property.

In the 1920s the Catholic Diocese purchased the house to serve as the bishop’s residence, thus was coined the popular moniker. Since the 1950s, the house has been open to the public as a museum, the city’s most popular, administered first by the diocese and in recent years by the Galveston Historical Foundation by way of lease agreement.

JKOA conducted an extensive Condition Assessment funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A Save America’s Treasures grant has been awarded to the Galveston Historical Foundation to help fund the first phase of repairs to the roof, now pending.