The Grand-1894 Opera House & Bishop's Palace - March 28, 2007

On March 28, 2007 our day trip group of 26 saw in awe great examples of Victorian-era architecture with inside docent-guided tours of both the Grand 1894 Opera House and the Bishop's Palace (circa 1886) located in Galveston.

The Grand, mostly restored to its original beauty, has some of the best overall acoustics of any live theater stage. The backdrop is a painted reproduction done in the mid-80's. The front stage, raised and lowered hydraulically, has 3 levels: raised performing stage; floor level for extra seating; orchestra pit when performances dictate. We took a group picture with everyone on the front entry steps AND on the stage itself! We traveled briefly backstage into the star's dressing room. We witnessed pictures of the massive destruction after THE hurricane, and marvel at the tremendous effort to reconstruct the Grand to its present glory.

The Bishop's Palace is rivaled only by the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C. It is build from native Texas granite, white limestone and red sandstone, all shaped on the premises. We took a group picture on the front entry staircase. No pictures were allowed inside. Inside are some of the most exotic woods and the most elaborate hand-carved woodwork (all throughout the house) in the USA. Huge fireplaces dominate the rooms. Stain-glassed interior windows are works of art. The original owner, Colonel Walter Gresham, spared no expense in building a true castle for his wife and nine children. In 1923 the home was purchased for the late Bishop Christopher Byrne by the Galveston-Houston Diocese, which owns it to this day.