Monday, September 5, 2016

The Painted Churches Of Fayette County Texas

In late July we took a road trip to Houston Texas.  I will eventually tell you all about that part of our trip but I wanted to share some of the things we saw while getting there and returning home first. For several years now, we had heard of the painted churches of Fayette County in Texas and wanted to see them but never took the time.  This trip we made the time and I am so glad we did!

While in Houston, knowing we were going to see a few of these churches, we took a tour of the Czech Museum.  It was there that we learned that these churches were built by Czech and German immigrants in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  It was an interesting museum and I do recommend it, especially, if you are interested in Texas history or Czech ancestry.

The term "painted" is used because of the elaborate faux-finished interiors of each of the churches.  The paint seen today is the original and it is still just as bright today as it was at the time painted.  There is an option to take a paid guided tour through the Schulenburg Chamber of Commerce or you can strike out on your own.  We struck out on our own figuring if we really wanted to know the history we could look it up.  We just wanted to see the pretty and move on.

The first church we went to was in Dubina and is called Saints Cyril and Methodius Church. The link will take you to a map of exactly where the church is located. In 1857, Dubina became the first Czech settlement in Texas.  The word "dubina" means oak grove in Czech.

The church was built in 1867 but in 1909 a hurricane destroyed it.  It was rebuilt in 1912 and this is the church that can be seen today.

Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church Dubina Texas

Upon opening the church doors we found we could only stand in a little foyer.  There was a locked metal gate keeping us from going in any further.  So this was the only picture I was able to get of the church in Dubina.  Even so, you can still see the beauty.  

Inside Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church Dubina Texas

For more of a view we would have had to taken the guided tour.  I can tell you that air conditioning was NOT on so in the summer it can be extremely stifling in there.  I am sure they turn it on for Sunday services, at least I hope so!!

The second church we went to was call Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ammannsville, about 5.5 miles north of the one in Dubina. Again, clicking on the link above will take you to a map of the location.  Ammannsville was settled by Andrew Ammann in 1870.  The church was built in 1890 but was wiped out in the same hurricane in 1909 that flattened the one in Dubina.  They rebuilt only to have it burn to the ground shortly thereafter. The current building was constructed in 1919 and it has stood the test of time.

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church Ammannsville Texas

We were able to explore more of this church than the one in Dubina.  But let me tell you, there was no air conditioning on in there either!  We made the rounds quickly then jumped back into our car with its precious precious air conditioning!

It is beautiful inside St. John's church!  I loved the ceiling!

Inside Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church Ammannsville Texas

Here is a great example of the stenciling on the walls along with one of the two angels holding holy water near the entrance.

Pink Angel with Holy Water at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church Ammannsville Texas

I liked how the prayer cards that were on the benches were in both English and Czech.

Prayer Cards at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church Ammannsville Texas

We had 10 miles to cool off as we headed southwest to the next church called Saint Mary's Catholic Church in High Hill.  In the 1840's German immigrants established the area that become know as High Hill.  The church was build around 1906 and survived the hurricane that took out the other two churches.  It is amazing how a mere ten miles saved it.  Here is the original church as it stands today.

St Marys Church High Hill Texas

We spent more time inside this church because, guess what, it had air conditioning!!  Wonderful, beautiful air conditioning!  Stepping into the foyer gave our eyes a lovely sight.  Aren't the colors fabulous?  The ropes you see belong to the bells that reside in the tower.  

Faux Finish in Foyer at St Marys Church High Hill Texas

The main sanctuary is breath-taking.  I loved the ceiling!

Inside at St Marys Church High Hill Texas

Here is a closer view of that ceiling.  The detail is so delicate!

Ceiling at St Marys Church High Hill Texas

The stained glass was amazing too.  I really love all the colors in this church!

Close Up of Stained Glass at St Marys Church High Hill Texas

The last church we went to was 12 miles west of High Hill. It is in Praha and is also called Saint Mary's Church.  Praha was settled in the mid 1850's by Czech immigrants.  The word Praha is the Czech word for Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  The church was dedicated in 1895 and still stands today.

St Marys Church Praha Texas

There was also air conditioning in this church.  (You might wonder why I keep bringing that up...if you are then obviously you aren't from Texas where summers are brutally hot!  Just trust me, it's important information!)

If I had to pick one of the churches as my favorite, it would probably be this one.  The ceiling is the reason.  It and the walls were painted by a Swiss artist named Gottfried Flurry. 

Main Alter St Marys Church Praha Texas

Here is a closer look at the very front wall at the main alter.

Ceiling at St Marys Church Praha Texas

The ceiling color even matched the stained glass plus I just really like this heart!

Heart with Sword Stained Glass at St Marys Church Praha Texas

I just want to leave you with this final photo from Praha.

Candles at St Marys Church Praha Texas

In my last post before actually getting to the Houston posts I will tell you about the Teepee Motel in Wharton, Texas.  It is an iconic part of Texas's past brought back to life.  It was an interesting experience for sure!

I hope you will return to read all about it!

Until then!

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