Recently I read the book “Isaac's Storm” by one of my favorite historical authors, Erik Larson. It tells the story of the worst deadliest weather disaster in American history — the infamous Galveston Hurricane of 1900. While in Houston over the weekend, I traveled once again to Galveston. As I stopped at both a cemetery and various architectural spots on the island, I couldn’t help but to reflect upon the book and the stories of people whose lives were violently changed forever by this storm. Over eight thousand people died in the storm — a figure more than twice that of the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and the Great San Francisco Earthquake
Still standing over a century later, however, are some of the more substantially built homes and buildings such as this one, the Gresham House (also known as Bishop’s Palace). This grand home, now listed as a National Historic Landmark at the national level of significance in the area of architecture, sits at the corner of Broadway & 14th streets. It was built from 1887 to 1892 for Virginia-born Colonel Walter Quintin Gresham and his family. Gresham, in addition to participation in political offices, was a successful attorney and entrepreneur, who founded the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad. Architectural historians list this structure as one of the most significant of Victorian residences in the country.
Aiming my camera up toward this imposing structure, I was struck by its beauty and obvious strength. My mind raced with created images of this home protecting the lives of its inhabitants — and what it must have been like to come out of this home to the devastation and carnage left in the wake of the Great Storm the following morning. You can see the house standing in the middle of the storm’s devastation in a historic photo (here).