The Painted Churches of Texas : A Unique Blend of Old World and New
Hill Country, located in the heart of Texas, is known for its rolling fields of bluebonnets, charming small towns, and unique culture. The German and Czech immigrants who settled Hill Country in the mid-19th century brought their Old World ways of life with them, including their unique painted churches.
The Importance of Painted Churches in Hill Country
Painted churches in Hill Country are a unique way that immigrants brought over their homeland. These churches may look simple on the outside, but once you enter, you’ll be surprised by the incredibly ornate and lively decor within. They are characterized by bright colors, gold leaf, and rich detail, and were intended to replicate the grand, elaborate Gothic churches in their homeland.
In a way, these churches are a metaphor for Hill Country’s little hamlets; a mix of the Old World and the New World, with pride in the past mixed with hope for the future.
The Painted Churches of Texas with Locations
Hill Country is home to a unique culture and heritage, and the painted churches are a testament to this. Each church has its own unique history and charm, making them a must-see for anyone visiting the area.
These churches are a symbol of the best of the Old World and the New World, and a reminder of the immigrants’ pride in the past and hope for the future.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Fredericksburg, TX
Location: 307 West Main Street, Fredericksburg, Texas
Contacts: (830) 997-9523
Fredericksburg’s St. Mary’s Catholic Church has a few buildings, including an 1863 stone church (the Marienkirche) and the nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, which hosts Spanish language services. The crown jewel, however, is the newer St. Mary’s Church building. Built in 1908, it boasts all kinds of Gothic features, including buttresses and the corner tower, and is covered in lovely murals. They even painted their rare wooden pipe organ. Guided tours are offered each Sunday after the 9 am Mass. It’s one of the larger painted churches to be found in Hill Country and is run by a friendly community.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Serbin, TX
Location: 1578 County Road 211, Giddings, Texas 78942 USA
Contacts: (979) 366-9650
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church has a charming white clapboard and belltower look on the outside, and a stunningly decorated scheme on the inside. It was founded in 1870 by a group of Wendish immigrants led by a man named Pastor Johann Kilian. In addition to the colorful paint job (which was recently restored and renovated), St. Paul’s boasts the tallest pulpit in Texas, located on the second floor of the church.
St. Mary’s Church Of The Assumption, Flatonia, TX
Location: 821 FM 1295, Flatonia, Texas 78941 USA
The painted St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption is a beautiful environment to worship, but it has humble beginnings. The Praha area was settled primarily by deeply religious Czech immigrants. But, though their faith was strong, their numbers were few, with more Catholics spread out far and wide across the area. The present church was built in 1895 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
St. Mary’s Church, Schulenburg, TX
Location: Fm 2672, Schulenburg, Texas 78956 USA
Contacts: (979) 561-8455
St. Mary’s Church in High Hill, near Schulenburg, was constructed in 1906. It was designed by famed Texas church architect Leo M.J. Dielmann, who gave it a Gothic Revival feel. The church gets its personality from the art, done by Ferdinand Stockert and Hermann Kern in 1912. It’s sometimes even referred to as the “Queen of the Painted Churches”. The designs were done freehand on canvas, which was then hung on the walls.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Ammannsville, TX
Location: Fm 1383, La Grange, Texas 78945 USA
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church had a bit of tricky luck with their first two churches, but the third is just as ornate as its predecessors, and it has remained standing ever since. The church’s paint job is believed to have been done by the notable decorative painter, Fred Donecker, who was known for his work on several other painted churches in Texas. The church is known for its intricate and detailed designs, adding to the beauty of the Hill Country landscape.
Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church – Dubina, Schulenburg, TX
Location: Dubina-Weimar Rd, Schulenburg, Texas 78956 USA
Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina is another stunning example of the painted churches in Hill Country. The original building was destroyed in the 1909 hurricane, but the new one, designed by Leo Dielmann, was completed around 1912. The church is known for its intricate stamp-stencils and artwork, which were restored in the 1980s. The church is a must-see for anyone interested in the history and culture of Hill Country.
Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace, Sweet Home, TX
Location: Hallettsville, Texas 77964 USA
The Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Sweet Home is believed to have been painted by Fred Donecker. The interior is light and simple compared to some of the other painted churches, but it is no less beautiful. The exterior is a Gothic Revival style done in red brick, giving the church a cozy and quaint feel. The church is a great place to visit if you’re interested in the history and culture of Hill Country.
Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church – Shiner, Shiner, TX
Location: 306 S Avenue F, Shiner, Texas 77984 USA
Contacts: (361) 594-3836
Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Shiner is another painted church that is worth visiting. The church was built in the 1920s and was painted in the 1950s, when some congregations were covering up their artwork. The church is known for its mural of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Latin inscription “Ecce Panis Angelorum”, and the painting of angels playing instruments near the choir loft.
Ascension Of Our Lord Catholic Church, Moravia, TX
Location: Fm 957, Moulton, Texas 77975 USA
The Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church in Moravia was built after the 1909 hurricane destroyed the original building. The church’s pastor designed the wooden, cross-shaped church, which he believed would better withstand inclement weather. The church was painted by Fred Donecker and his sons, and is one of the best preserved and most untouched painted church murals. It is a great place to visit if you’re interested in the history and culture of Hill Country.
In conclusion, Hill Country is home to many beautiful and unique painted churches, each with its own history and charm. Many companies offer guided tours of these churches, making it easy to visit them all and learn about the early settlers and German/Czech-meets-Texas culture. The PBS documentary special “The Painted Churches of Texas: Echoes of the Homeland” is also a great way to experience these unique places of worship firsthand.