A 1930s-Era Estate, Bayou-Side in Dickinson

This sprawling $2.35 million 13-acre estate sits on the left bank of a Dickinson Bayou tributary, across from that little shopping district with the steakhouse and the barber shop and the Dairy Queen. Past the gatekeeper’s cottage, you’ll find this 6-bedroom 2-story stucco home on the site, deep into a landscape of Spanish moss-draped oaks and crape myrtles. The home and its well-paneled interior dates to 1933, though a few of the interior floor coverings look like they might be a bit more recent:


Is there anything the creators of this luxurious Dickinson hideaway haven’t thought of? What more could you want from a 5,915-sq.-ft. waterfront home with . . . an actual wine cellar?

Oh. Well then this cozy barrel-vaulted house of prayer mounted high on the property might come in handy:

28 Comment

  • Who in the world would need this kind of a home in dickinson?

  • Sweet! But again, Dickinson?

  • The guy who secretly owns the whole city.

  • Good grief, that is beautiful. If it dates back to 1933, it’s obviously strong enough to withstand hurricane-force winds.

  • looks like the pool/fountain wasn’t always so well maintained


  • According to Wikipedia which cites an unreachable Texas Monthly article:

    “During the 1920s, Dickinson became a significant tourist destination resulting from investment by the Maceo crime syndicate which ran Galveston during this time. The syndicate created gambling venues in the city such as the Silver Moon casino.[4]”

    So, I’d imagine this mansion is probably connected to these fine folks.

  • Yes, I would guess it is Mafia/gambling related too. The time period is right.

  • And since a lot of the Mafia families in the area were Italian and presumably Catholic, the private chapel kinda makes sense too.

  • .. which makes it more awesome.

  • Agreed on the Mafia aspect. And Dickinson Bayou provided a perfect and convenient dumping ground for any dead bodies.

  • I wander if there’s anyone sleeping with the fishes in the pond behind the house?

  • So tasteful. Today’s mob has a lot to learn from their forefather’s. Fuh-ged-aboud-it.

  • Why is it that realtors must say ‘treed’ instead of wooded?

  • So, where are the bodies?

  • Sweet looking joint there. In little old Dickinson! Awesome!

    One could buy it, move there and be far, far away from the holier than thou Heights toads & smug ITL snobs; daring them to drive their hybrids down to Dickinson to wag their fingers & snipe at the palatial, stucco estate. Plenty of room for turrets, too.


  • #14– Hey, oh, did yous completely miss the concrete and pavers surrounding the swimming pool, or what???

  • If you’re interested in looking it up at Galveston CAD, it’s AKA 2010 E FM 517
    DICKINSON, TX 77539.

  • 2010 FM 517 RD E; R163484

  • markd: A friend of mine learned something interesting on his first day in a criminal justice class; apparently a body takes 20-25 years to completely disintegrate in a typical Gulf Coast swampland. So, no.

  • I wonder if the church has a confession box as an offset to all the “pecado” performed on the property.

    Any ideas?

  • This place is really great – just oozes intrigue! and people say Houston has no history…
    Imagine living along that bayou without A/C or interstate driving.
    This reminds me of another old estate sitting in central Florida: 17920 West Colonial Drive, Oakland, FL 34787.
    Bin Laden’s brother owned the property for a bit, which has given it recent celebrity though, now, it too needs a caretaker.


  • Does anyone know who the owner is?

  • Back in the mid 80’s we held annual beer fests next door; the owner hired security guards to keep the kids off his property. The bayou is always glass and great for water skiing.

  • Galveston County AD says the main house was built in 1920. Appraisal amount has not changed in the last 5 years. Interesting.

  • Growing up in Dickinson, I always heard that this was the Bishop’s Retreat, and there were peacocks on the property that eventually escaped and roamed up and down the Dickinson Bayou.

  • Interesting that many do not know the history of Dickinson. The Emitte family ran the gambling operations in Dickinson and also stored gambling equipment in Dickinson for the Maceo operations. However neither of theses families had anything to do with the building of this home nor did a Bin Laden relative own the home. The parishioners of the Houston Galveston Archdiocese paid for the home though their offerings at mass. The Catholic Bishop of the diocese had the home constructed as his private residence, hence a chapel on the grounds. I lived across the street from the property in the 60s. There were hundreds of pheasants and at night they would fly up to their roosts in the pines. That is why one of the rooms has a drawing of pheasants on the wall. A friend and I made a raft to explore the bayou and we capsized near the home. We swam ashore and started walking to my house and we were stopped by a priest. He took us inside and gave us hot chocolate and then drove us home. That was about 1961. So the Catholic Church still owned the property at that time along with about 50 acres that is off Hugh’s Road and now is a religious retreat. When Shrine of the True Cross was built, the church on the corner of Hwy 3 and Pine Drive ceased to operate. Dr. Karl Fuchs and friends purchased the buildings and started a Latin Mass church. So no hidden mafia or Bin Laden secrets and probably no bodies on the estate, simply a bishop failing to adhere to his vows of poverty and living a life of luxury at the expense of his diocese.

  • This home was built by a Catholic Cardinal and was his personal residence.

  • Bayou Vista, The Bishops Lodge

    The home and grounds are unique, or as a visitor said, epoch. The property was purchased in 1930 by Louis J. Reicher, chancellor of the Diocese of Galveston and later first bishop of the Diocese in Austin. Reicher enjoyed personal business success, astutely investing his $3,000 savings as a steel worker to become a millionaire. He made his personal assets available to the indebted Galveston diocese and skillfully managed its finances, making the diocese worth several million dollars and ultimately self-sufficient. In 1923 Reicher purchased the Gresham house on Galveston Island. This mansion, situated across the street from the Sacred Heart Church, served as the residence for Bishop Christopher E. Byrne, and became known as The Bishops Palace. Reicher lived there for 7 years with Bishop Byrne.

    Father Reicher developed the property in Dickinson into a serene retreat where he could devote himself to his land and receive spiritual renewal. The estate was operated as an independent farm with pastures, vineyards, pig pens, cattle barns, horse stalls, fowl house, smokehouse, workshop, deck and boat house, carriage house, a grand manor house, and, most intriguingly, an exquisite Byzantine-style chapel. Epoch indeed.

    Bishop Reicher was known as the “Builder Bishop”. He built or renovated more than 263 buildings during the first 13 years and was known as the Builder Bishop. Convents, schools, rectories,, churches, halls. Some of the major buildings to his credit are the Chancery Office, Holy Cross Hospital, Catholic Student center for The University of Texas and one for the A&M university, Bryan, and the Rebekah Baines Johnson Geriatric Center . He also established residents for the retired and bought three convalescent homes to accommodate the mentally disturbed, alcoholics, and the aged and sick.

    Throughout his life, the spiritual activities of the faithful were the Bishop’s main concern. Bishop Reicher sums up his life in these words: “God has been good to me. When a young man, I was torn between the desire to be a priest or a businessman. I became a priest and was immediately appointed to an office; now as a priest and a bishop I have spent forty-eight years in administration. Thus through the grace of God, I am a priest, a bishop, and a business man; but first and most important of all—I am a priest.”