Painted Churches of Schulenburg, Texas

During our stay in Columbus, Texas we passed a sign advertising The Painted Churches of Schulenburg. When we looked into them they seemed really cool. They are actually amazing!

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German and Czech immigrants built The Painted Churches of Texas dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when they came to Texas to start a new life. They built dozens of churches across Texas, that appear unassuming as you approach them, but hold magnificent masterpieces as you enter the front doors.

They were painted to emulate the beloved churches the immigrants left behind in Europe. Many of the immigrants were fleeing religious oppression, wishing to practice their faith in peace. The churches are perhaps the most awe-inspiring example of the rich German and Czech culture in the Hill Country. The Painted Churches feature hand-painted sculptures, angels, filigree, faux-marble, and stencils.

Today, about 20 painted churches are still standing, and many are located in or around Schulenburg, which is why people sometimes call them the Painted Churches of Schulenburg.

We visited 5 Painted Churches in the area. Below is the order we visited the churches. While all are really nice churches with beautiful painting and interesting histories, the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Surbin, Texas was a bit out of the way and we would skip it next time.

Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Praha, Texas

Address: 821 FM1295, Flatonia, TX 78941

The old wooden beams of this church built in 1895 are painted to resemble the golden crown moldings and dazzling architecture of a grand European cathedral, with white altars that almost look like crystal in the light.

St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption in Praha, Texas, is the oldest of the region’s painted churches.

The blue-green arched ceiling of St. Mary’s Church of Assumption is a Garden of Eden replica filled with Texas flowers, and the building’s polished floors serve as a mirror for its grand chandelier and stained-glass windows.

But the star of the church is the white altar gilded in 24 karat gold.

Behind the hand-carved altar is a serene mural of three angels dressed in pink, blue, and yellow, floating around a cross. Painted cornices and wooden beams enhance the majestic effect.

Though the paintings have faded over time, when the sunbeams dance across the stained-glass windows into the church, the entire hall glistens just like that of the St. Peter’s Basilica.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, High Hill, Texas

Address: 2833 FM 2672, Schulenburg, TX 78956

Officially named St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. With its ornate design, paintings and stained-glass windows, St. Mary is known as the “Queen of the Painted Churches” and is visited by hundreds of visitors every year.

Every inch of St. Mary’s Church, High Hill, is decorated, from the painstakingly intricate designs on the wooden altar to the towering columns topped with life-sized Biblical figures.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The first St. Mary church was built in 1869. A larger church was built in 1876, and the original building was used as a school. This newer church featured stained-glass windows donated by the people of the parish. When the present-day church was built, these beautiful original stained-glass windows were moved to the new and larger building, which was constructed in 1906 and painted in 1912.

Ferdinand Stockert and Hermann Kern, two sought-after decorative artists of the time, painted this Gothic revival church. Instead of doing their work directly on the ceilings and walls, they used canvases later affixed to the building.

From the outside, it looks like an unassuming red-brick church. But inside, it’s a vibrant kaleidoscope. This by far was our favorite church. With 18 stained-glass windows dazzling light fills the church!

Considered one of the most beautiful churches in Texas, the sanctuary features a pastel blue cupola with gold accents, and the columns are painted to resemble marble.

Saints Cyril and Methodius Church, Dubina, Texas

Address: 4148 FM1383, Schulenburg, TX 78956

Dubina’s first church was built in 1876, but was destroyed by a 1909 hurricane. Rebuilt in 1912, it survived a fire that all but destroyed the town.

A testament to the Gothic cathedrals of their homeland, Saints Cyril and Methodius features sky-blue ceilings and domes set off with gold stars, floral stencils, and angels on high.

In the 1950s, the local diocese ruled that the vibrant interior was too distracting and whitewashed the artwork.

But in the 1980s, when other area churches were recognized for their painted interiors, Saints Cyril and Methodius restored the original art.

Today Saints Cyril and Methodius Church with its bright painting inside and out, stands strong and proud against the Texas sky. It is a reminder of the early settlers’ faith in God and their will to survive.

This church can be viewed from inside the front doors where there is a locked gate. Full access is limited to touring groups and of course, services on Sunday.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Ammannsville, Texas

Address: 7745 Mensik Rd, La Grange, TX 78945

In Ammannsville, you’ll find the Painted Church that’s known as “the pink one.” It’s pretty enough on the outside, with antique wooden details and stained-glass windows, but inside are pink detailed walls, uniquely domed ceilings and towering altars.

Gold stenciled patterns sit atop a light pink base, with ivy and angel depictions scattered throughout the sanctuary.

The church’s green flooring and loads of painted statutes add to the wow factor. Fred Donecker and Sons, who advertised as “fresco painters,” are responsible for the original murals.

An enduring homage to the early settlers, the church’s stained-glass windows tell the story of the area’s Czech roots and history.

The present Saint John’s is the third church to be built on the property. A fierce hurricane destroyed the first church in 1909, and the second burned in a fire eight years later.

With two churches destroyed in such a short time, one would think the community of Ammansville would have given up — maybe resigned themselves to worshiping with other nearby communities. Yet, they began the process of planning and rebuilding almost immediately after the fire. They built the present structure on the concrete footprint of the second church. Today’s building was erected in 1918.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Serbin, Texas

Address: 1572 Co Rd 211, Giddings, TX 78942

This church, built in 1870 looks like a very simple church outside, but opens up to be a truly breathtaking display of marble white walls, cerulean detailing and intricately designed columns.

For the first 36 years of its existence, St. Paul’s remained a demure, wood church.

But in 1906, the community decided to spruce things up and painted the church by themselves, without the help of a professional artist.

Yet, its beauty is not all it boasts… This “double-decker” church has upstairs pews. Many say that its pulpit, which is located 20 feet off the ground on the second level of the church, is the tallest in Texas!

Christians have used two levels for seating the congregation for centuries. In fact, one of the oldest churches in Rome has what was once called a “matrimonium” still intact. The custom was to seat mothers and children up in this balcony-like seating, while the men sat below. Saint Paul’s worked just the opposite. Men sat up in the balcony and women and children sat below.

St. Paul’s Lutheran in Serbin is the only non-Catholic painted church on our list.

Guided Tours of the Painted Churches of Schulenburg

The Greater Schulenburg Chamber of Commerce has docents who give guided tours of the painted churches of Schulenburg that last 3-4 hours. You have to make a reservation well in advance (two weeks) and pay a $50 deposit. The tour itself is $10 per person and you provide the transportation. They offer some van tours on Monday and Thursday during October and part of November.

It is easy to do this tour on your own and save yourself $50+.

Conclusion

The painted Texas churches are cherished historic buildings that memorialize the ingenuity and faith of the early settlers — and visiting them is a treat.

Remember that these churches are all active places of worship. You may visit them Monday through Saturday from 9am to 4pm but be respectful of any events or services that may be going on during those times when you visit.

What interesting places have you been to and can recommend? We’re always looking for neat out-of-the-way places to put on our list of must sees. Thank you for reading our article. If you have any comments or questions we’d love to hear from you below.

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