On to Higher Ground: Painted Churches

We left Edinburg, just a day late to avoid the flood. Sounds like they got the field mostly drained and things are returning to normal down there. We headed to Schulenburg to do the painted churches tour and see other attractions in the area. There is a lot to see. And bluebonnets, of course.

IMG_0295

The painted churches are really worth seeing. There are four of them (one, Praha, was closed for repair), spread out in about a 15 mile radius. At first we thought we would do them on our bikes, but when we realized there was so much to see in the area we rented a car. They came and picked us up from Lagrange, about 15 miles away and brought us back to the bus when we returned the car. We were happy to pay the $50 and toured the towns of High Hill, Dubina, Ahmannsville, Swiss Alp, Weimar, Columbus, Halletsville, Flatonia and the surrounding area, including Lagrange where we turned the car in. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The painted churches. This is a self guided tour. You just drive to the church and check it out. Most of them were built in the mid 1800s by mostly Czech immigrants who came to the area and settled among the live oaks and rolling meadows. All the churches and cemeteries are open and we had them all to ourselves.

IMG_7221

The area is lush and green from all the rain and the live oak trees are a sight to see. The bus was parked right next to this one and it wasn’t even as monstrous as some of them, including the second largest live oak in Texas, which is in Columbus. Some of the churches had groves of them.

DSC_1743_tonemapped
This is the second largest one. Seventy feet tall, trunk circumference of 329 inches with a crown spreading over 110 feet. Estimated to be over 500 years old. It spilled way over into the neighboring yard. This picture was taken from way far away with a fisheye lens. So, big. Yeah.

DSC_1920
DSC_1752_tonemapped
The first, and arguably most magnificent, church was High Hill. The stained glass alone is worth the trip.

DSC_1774IMG_7228IMG_7229IMG_7224IMG_7226  IMG_7234
The sanctuary is pretty spectacular too.
DSC_1783
One unique note: The churches are in very rural areas and are unlocked. The stained and painted glass is not protected with plexiglass or bars. The cemeteries do not have a bunch of broken headstones. Trust the loving universe; they have remained undamaged. If you’re looking for a good place to settle down, unlocked churches would be a good criteria to go by.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is in Ahmannsville. They all have a very large cemetery as well as pavilions for gatherings. Truly the center of community life.

IMG_7236  IMG_7239 IMG_7241

Dubina is the oldest one and has the biggest trees on the grounds.
DSC_1865 DSC_1860 DSC_1847 DSC_1853
Dubina has a really interesting cemetery where they took special care to note graves of folks who weren’t buried on site. Much attention to detail in a day when life was much more unpredictable.
IMG_7247

DSC_1796
When Schulenburg was formed, because of the railroad, of course, they moved buildings from High Hill by mule and log rollers to the new railroad center. Can you imagine?

These largely Czech communities must have teemed with artists and craftsmen, evidenced by the work in the area. The stonework, masonry, woodworking, stucco, painting, along with the mastery of stained/painted glass are all remarkable. Not to mention the difficulty of construction. They just got ‘er done. Where do you see this level of craftsmanship in today’s world? Yes, there are lots of artists these days, but these projects took a sustained community of craftsmen and artists many years to produce these humbling works. The work ethic and acknowledgement of art and craft are missing in today’s strip malls and Butler building churches. Not to mention that many “blue collar” workers would actually be creatively employed, not just working at Walmart. If you go to church, you may as well go to one where the art inspires you as much as the sermon. That would be a big plus for me.

Many more pics on Flickr. There are just too many to include here. Worth a look.

Advertisements

6 comments on “On to Higher Ground: Painted Churches

  1. horstApril 17, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    Just saw your 2 posts(comments)…Hope the storms didn’t effect you Guys too much….Burnet is a fun place….the entire area is worth looking around..even without the Flowers….I was also up
    there in April 2012(see Blog posts)…it will give you and idea of stuff to do..Ilano was a good stop by itself… I just got back. and the rains keep coming…take care and safe travels…..Horst sends
    ps..Great photos…painted churches tour is pretty neat..I did that a couple years ago…glad all is going well…Horst

  2. Hello guys, Tommy and I just finished pumping out the lake this afternoon LOL! we had lots of help from Charlie, Barry, Mike , Gary, and some others, I am brain dead right now lOL. Have safe trip!

  3. This area looks fantastic and certainly worth a visit. Thanks so much for stopping in to our website and leaving a review on Hamlin RV Park. Especially, for posting the picture of your bus. I love it! So unique.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s