Saturday, March 12, 2011

Foto Friday - The Bishop's Palace

Yesterday was far too beautiful of a day to be stuck inside, so I decided to explore some history in Galveston. And don't ya know, deep in the heart of Texas there is a real castle just like the one's fairy tales are made of.

This one is called the Bishop's Palace, an ornate Victorian building finished in 1892, designed by the famous architect Nicholas Clayton and built for Walter Gresham a former Colonel and U.S Congressman.

Formerly knows as the Gresham House, it's one of the greatest landmarks on the Island and ranked among the top 100 homes in the U.S for it's Victorian architectural excellence. This is a must see if ever in Galveston!

It became known as the Bishop's Palace after it was purchased in 1923 by the Catholic Diocese of Galveston to be the official residence of the bishop. But only one bishop ever lived in the house and after he died the church opened it up to the public. It's now being operated as a museum by the Galveston Historical Foundation.

I decided to take a tour of the inside on another day and just a little disappointed that photographs are not allowed (okay, a lot!). But I will have to go back as I've read that the interior is just as grand in it's details including the use of rare woods, a forty foot octagonal mahogany stairwell with stained glass windows on five sides, and fireplace mantels from around the world with one even lined in SILVER!

Although it's a Victorian home, it also lends itself to the chateau style of the french renaissance as seen by it's towers, long sculptured chimneys, elaborate roof lines, and ornamentation. It stands 3 stories tall over a raised basement and it's truly magnificent. You can even rent it for seven hours for only $1800!

Nicholas Clayton put his own embellishments on this style through his use of multi-colored stone, detailed carvings and ornamental iron as seen in the picture below. It was built of Texas limestone, gray granite, pink granite and red sandstone combined with steel framing that allowed it to withstand the great storm of 1900. Go here to see a picture of the Bishop's Palace from that September 8, 1900 storm.

                        Sometimes the shadows are just as beautiful as the ornamentation itself . . .

More examples of the detailed carvings found on the building. This is above the front door.

This is one of two columns that flanks the front door.

This is a tile mosaic found at the front door.

Under the front steps that take you to the first floor and entrance are doors that lead to the raised basement.  You enter this breezeway to the right and in the middle is a set of glass doors leading to a room met by a breezeway from the other side.

Walter Gresham's wife did all the mural painting you see on the walls and ceiling which is still in it's original form. In one photo that they had hanging on the wall it showed two alligators that she had painted above an archway.

 You can also see some of the steel frame on the ceiling. It's said that they did a lot of entertaining in the basement which would have been unusual for the Victorian time and maybe because it leads straight out to the backyard? I can only imagine what it would have been like dressed in all of those clothes without any air conditioning . . . and no central heat in the winter either.

It's also said that the ghost of Walter Gresham can sometimes be seen inspecting the exterior of the home when a storm from the gulf becomes a threat, hmmm?

When I came out of the raised basement level I saw several of these Red Admiral butterflies busy looking for nectar in the (insignificant) flowers found on a dwarf burford holly bush. This one appears to have landed on a nearby hosta leaf to sun himself, or maybe he was posing for a picture!

I had fully intended to go by more historical sites, but  . . . the ocean was calling me! So I grabbed a subway sandwich and my chair and ate on the beach. It wasn't but a few minutes and I had a visitor, waiting patiently for a nibble. One visitor became several dozen and soon they were eating out of my hands. I didn't really need that bag of chips anyway! ; )

I was even serenaded . . . yep, I think they were singing Galveston, oh Galveston!!

And only in Texas will you see this . . .

It was a glorious day! A little history, the beach and a sunset. Life is good!!

So here's to a fabulous weekend everyone! Carpe Diem . . .

Love, Kim


Emilee said...

I loved all these pictures, but the sunset picture is my absolute favorite! It makes my very chilled body feel warm! So thank you for that! You are so talented, Kim - with your pictures and your words! xo

Janet Bocciardi said...

Kim - who knew such a gorgeous old world looking kind of home was in TX?! Beautiful photos... love that column with the flowers and doves at the top. Somehow I feel like I should have tea and scones now! ; )

SKC said...

Wonderful shots.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful shots dear Kim, I love it!
Kisses and happy new week.

Leslie Todd said...

Such a wonderful photo journal! I want to go back to Galveston and see that building (last time I had a five year old in tow so we didn't do as much sightseeing as I'd have liked.)

Kim Stevens said...

Thanks,I appreciate all your comments when you stop by, it keeps me inspired!

mosaicmom said...

Hey there Kim, I'm a little late to this post. Finally had some time to sit down and enjoy it! You sure got some beautiful shots of the palace. I did take a tour several years ago and it is indeed beautiful inside too. I love your photo of the above door carving, and the singing birds are just too cute!

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