You don’t have to be a person who enjoys watching Antiques Roadshow to get something out of visiting the historic homes of Galveston Island. Although I do really enjoy watching what I consider to be PBS’ greatest show, the raw history of places like Bishop’s Palace and Moody Mansion can captivate nearly anyone. The goliath homes of the past are especially enchanting during the holiday season when they are gorgeously decked out in the opulent Christmas decorations of yesteryear.
Bishop’s Palace, built in 1893, was originally home to the Gresham family before the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased it. During the holiday season, it features beautiful red bows on the iconic winged lions that guard the entrance and trees in a number of rooms. Visitors to the elegant Victorian house can see the largest tree in the rotunda, a silver tree in the silver room, a peacock tree in the library, and even a "bird tree" in the parlor. More trees, in addition to a surplus of candles and greenery, are added to the home to give it a remarkable Christmas spirit. While touring the home, guests can see the influence of -not only the Gresham family but also of the Diocese that had an altar room built on the second floor.
Moody Mansion, built in 1895, was the longtime home of one of the most prominent Galveston families, the Moodys. During the holiday season, each room on the first floor of the expansive home comes complete with a Christmas tree. One of the more impressive trees is seen upon first entering the home, which you are let into after ringing the doorbell like callers did many, many years ago. On the first floor, there is an opulent grand dining room that drips Christmas elegance in the form of full flower arrangements on the long wooden table, a tall tree in the corner that nearly touches the gold detailed ceiling, an intricate mantel draped in garland, and carefully placed poinsettias. The poinsettias are aplenty throughout the home; they line the grand staircase that ushers guests up to the second floor to continue the expedition into the Victorian age.
If you feel like being transported back in time during your next visit to Galveston, head over to Bishop’s Palace and Moody Mansion. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Guests can check out the Christmas décor of Bishop’s Palace from now through the New Year. More information about the home currently owned and cared for by the Galveston Historical Foundation can be found online. Moody Mansion will also be decorated through the New Year. More information about and tickets to tour the home can be found here.