There were two errands that I needed to run before heading for La Grange today. First, I had Daisy inspected at Jiffy Lube; she received a good bill of health. I mailed my application for renewal of my registration from there. Then I went to Discount Tires to have valve extenders installed on the inside dual tires. The extenders had to be special ordered but they didn’t charge me for them. I had fully expected to pay so I was greatly surprised by the gift. Discount Tires certainly has my vote of approval.
I arrived at the RV park around noon. Quite a few club members were already there. We had four visitors this time: Mike Murphy (who is one of my co-members of the Lazy Dazers), Larry Roming, Barbara Coles and Emma Crews. All but Emma joined the club.
We had our usual potluck dinner tonight with some very good dishes – to the detriment of my waistline. :>)
Today several of us visited some of the famous painted churches near Schulenburg. The term "painted" comes from the elaborate faux-finished interiors - painted by itinerant artists who advertised in church bulletins and newspapers. What appear to be gold-leafed, stone and polished marble columns and ceilings are actually finely-fitted woodwork.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
Our first stop was in Ammannsville to see St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Ammannsville was settled by German and Czech immigrants in the 1870s. It was named after the town's first settler, Andrew Ammann. In 1876 the first business opened and by 1879 the town had a post office which operated until 1906. The church and a school opened in 1890. About 800 people once lived in the immediate area but today the community consists of only the church, KJT Hall, an old cotton gin and a few residences.
The present Saint John's is the third church to be built on the property. The first church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1909. A second church was built by High Hill architect, Leo Dielmann. The second church, which was very ornate, burned to the ground eight years after the first one was destroyed. The fire was so hot that even the church bells melted.
The community of Ammannsville built the present structure on the concrete footprint of the second church. The third church, completed in 1919, was much simpler than the one which had burned.
The work of noted decorative painter, Fred Donecker, can be seen on the walls of Saint John’s. Later, when the church needed some retouching, local artist, Gene A, Mikulik, was hired.
St. Mary Roman Catholic Church
Next we drove to St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in High Hill. It is one of the first churches built by noted Texas architect, Leo M J Dielmann. It was built in 1906 in a classic gothic revival style. The interior is made of wood but it is protected by the brick exterior, which makes it resistant to fire and storms. Dielmann used decorative painting to create the illusion of gothic groin vaults and joints.
The interior painting of High Hill was executed by Ferdinand Stockert and Hermann Kern in 1912. Stockert and Kern first painted their images on canvas and then glued them to the wood walls. Today from the choir loft you can see the bubbles and now hardened canvas close up.
Of the three churches that we visited today this one is the most beautiful, in my opinion.
St. Cyril and Methodious Church
Our last stop was at St. Cyril and Methodious Church in Dubina. We could only view the inside from the foyer, which was protected by iron bars. They had to take this step because of some serious vandalism.
In 1856 a small group of families from the northeastern part of Moravia arrived at the spot they called Dubina. They constructed their first church in 1877 and topped it with an iron cross made by freed slave and blacksmith, Tom Lee. This church was destroyed by a hurricane in July 1909.
The community raised $5,571.90 to build a new church and hired architect, Leo Dielmann, to draw up plans. The church's steeple was topped with the same iron cross fashioned by Mr. Lee, which had been salvaged from the debris of the previous church. No records survive as to who painted the interior of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
Vines, oak leaves and angels adorn the sky blue ceiling and walls, but the painting was whitewashed over in the 1950s. In the 1980s area judge, Ed Janeckas along with Butch Koenig, led the community in restoring the church. They uncovered the old designs. Some of the original stencils were found as well. Where they were a little unsure, they took some artistic liberties. In any case, the result is beautiful.
Today I went with Barbara Coles and Emma Crews to visit some attractions in La Grange.
Old Fayette County Jail & Visitor Center
Fayette County opened its first jail in July, 1838. The cost of the first structure was $460. It was a primitive structure; prisoners were ironed and chained but within ten years the building was sold.
In 1852, plans were finalized for a new jail that was in use by 1854. This jail was built by German immigrant Heinrich Kreische, who was a stone mason by trade.
By the early 1880’s, there was a need for a more modern and larger jail so work began on the structure now called the Old Jail. In November 1881, the county commissioners selected the Victorian Gothic design of Andrewarthe & Wahrenberger, which resembles a Gothic cathedral. The building was opened in 1883.
The cell block contained 16 cells divided into two floors; eight cells stacked atop one another. Women and juveniles were housed separately upstairs from the men. The living quarters for the jailer and his family was located at the front and side of the jail and contained a common room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom.
It was used for more than a hundred years until a more modern facility was opened in August of 1985, leaving the building empty for ten years. It is currently used as the City of La Grange Visitor’s Bureau and office space for the La Grange Area Chamber of Commerce.
Many artifacts had been collected during the renovations and are now on display alongside a remaining cell inside the building.
Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites
Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Site, 40.4 acres total, is located on a 200-foot bluff overlooking La Grange and the Colorado River. The tomb at Monument Hill was acquired by the State of Texas in 1907 and transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1949. In 1956, the archbishop of San Antonio and the citizens of Fayette County deeded an additional 3.58 acres to the site. Another 36-acre tract, including the Kreische Brewery and Heinrich Kreische home, was added in 1977. The park was opened in 1983, after archaeological study and stabilization had been completed.
Here is the burial site of remains of men involved in the Mier Expedition against Mexico, as well as 41 of Capt. Nicholas Dawson’s soldiers who were massacred in 1842 by Mexicans at Salado Creek near San Antonio. The monument is a 48-foot marker of stone, bronze and polychrome.
The bluff at Monument Hill is the northern limit of the Oakville Escarpment of Miocene era bearing sandstone. This escarpment marks the boundary between the Upland Post Oak Woodlands and the Fayette Prairie environments, making for great biological diversity. Oak and cedar forests and predominately little bluestem prairie environments are intermixed throughout the park.
We spent some time in the visitor center and then walked on the circle trail. We enjoyed the views of La Grange, the Colorado River and the surrounding country from the bluff.
Texas Quilt Museum
The Texas Quilt Museum was a dream and a goal of its founders for decades. They wanted a place where many people could discover and appreciate quilts as art in a setting that showcased them for longer periods than most exhibitions do. The museum is housed in two historic 1890s buildings with high ceilings, brick walls and original hardwood floors. Over two years, with the help of skilled artisans guided by an architect well-known for re-purposing historically significant buildings, the buildings were restored. During the process, an allied building was acquired, increasing exhibition space to more than 10,000 square feet in three galleries.
The museum officially opened on November 13, 2011. Since then, it has received a Main Street award, was a finalist for the Texas Downtown Association's Presidents Award, and won the prestigious 2012 Preservation Texas award for transforming its two buildings in the city's historic district. It was also voted Best Museum in Fayette County.
It features great quilt art, both traditional and contemporary, from all over the world. We were very impressed with the quilts. From a distance they resemble paintings. One gallery was devoted to a very impressive exhibit featuring the Magna Charta, with scenes of life of that time and portraits of the people involved in its creation.
We also enjoyed the slide presentation giving the artists’ names and describing their techniques. There were several quilts done by men. There were even some tiny “quilts” on the front of postcards. The exhibits are replaced every three months. The only photographs I was allowed to take were overall views of the main gallery. Boo hoo!
There is a lovely flower garden beside the museum and on the side of the building is a mural featuring – what else? – quilts. It is very well done.
STATS Route: TX 71S => TX 71 Business to La Grange Total Miles Driven: 70 Weather Conditions: Cold and windy Road Conditions: Good RV Park: Colorado Landing RV Park [www.coloradolanding.com] Park Conditions: Large pull-through sites, nice club house with restrooms and showers, free Wi-Fi, new dog park, propane, swimming pool, nature walk along Colorado River