The Gresham mansion was made all of stone, and was sturdy enough to withstand the great hurricane of 1900. The Greshams welcomed hundreds of survivors of the hurricane into their home.
The house was built between 1887 and 1893 by Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton for lawyer and politician Walter Gresham, his wife Josephine, and their nine children. In 1923 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased the house, and, situated across the street from the Sacred Heart Church, it served as the residence for Bishop Christopher E. Byrne. After the diocesan offices were moved to Houston, the diocese opened the mansion to the public in 1963, with proceeds from tours being used to help fund the Newman Center, operating in the basement, serving Catholic students at the nearby University of Texas Medical Branch.
The home is estimated to have cost $250,000 at the time; today its value is estimated at over $5.5 million.
The house is owned by the Galveston Historical Foundation and self-guided tours are available daily. A portion of each admission supports the preservation and restoration of the property.