Gothic Revival windows and majestic steeples rising into a bright blue Texas Hill Country sky....pure artistic homage and beauty found only in my Lone Star State.
With my trusty pardner in travel and life, Kman and I spent last weekend driving around the areas of Schulenburg, La Grange, Columbus, Gonzales and Fredricksburg. We've rambled around these towns many times, but never took the opportunity to visit all the famous "painted churches" of Texas.
My photographs can't begin to do justice to them. Built by both craftsmen and ordinary farmers who immigrated from Germany and Czechoslovakia, the churches represent a different era, a rougher rural Texas softened in rare small communities by old world visionaries. (Click on images to enlarge.)
This is Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin in High Hill, Texas. Constructed in 1908, the architect was Leo Dielmann. The little German community was not wealthy, so Dielmann used paint to create the illusion of traditional vaults and joints that otherwise would be actual construction from stone and wood:
Stained Glass panel up close:
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church - this is actually the third church built on this site. The first two were destroyed by fire. In fact, Leo Dielmann built the second church, just as ornate if not more than the Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin. In 1919, this structure was erected, far more simple and open:
St. Mary's Church of The Assumption is located in Praha, Texas, and is the oldest of the painted churches. Built in 1895 by early Czech settlers, the steeple is 130 feet tall. The front of the church is being refurbished and repaired, hence you can't see much for the scaffolding:
But the interior is not to be missed:
Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina was built by Czech immigrants from Moravia. A hurricane in 1909 destroyed the first church built shortly after the Civil War in 1877. The iron cross on the top of the steeple was salvaged from the first church, and once again, Mr. Leo Dielmann was the architect chosen to design the second church.
At some point, believe it or not, the beautiful walls and ceiling were whitewashed over and no records survived that could identify the original artist. In 1980, the community took on the task of restoration, uncovering and preserving the original painting and having to "recreate" patches, keeping as true to the original as possible:
Definitely worth the drive if you're in the vicinity to visit these old churches. And late March is wildflower time in the Hill Country - so a good excuse to go exploring the countryside!