Three views of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, Dubina. Painted Churches by Gerald Moorhead, FAIA
Texas has many spectacular architectural ensembles: dozens of historic county courthouses set in period squares; the commercial and residential districts in places like Galveston and Jefferson, frozen in time; the plaza and Border Brick-style buildings of Roma; the five missions of San Antonio; and so many more. Among these special groups are the so-called “Painted Churches” scattered around the countryside of Central Texas. Interior decorative schemes defined by marbling, stencil, graining, and other trompe l’oeil techniques transform plain wooden structures into baroque wonders of goldstarred heavens, hovering angels, birds, abstract foliage, and geometric patterns. in Texas with significant interior decorative painting. Fifteen of them are listed together on the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps the best known are four churches built in Fayette County between La Grange and Schulenburg, and one located further north in Lee County near Giddings: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church; Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin Catholic Church; St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption; Sts. Cyril
PHOTOS BY ALAN GRAHAM ROBERTS, AIA
There are about two dozen churches
and Methodius Catholic Church; and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. A brief history of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina is representative of this group and many other rural churches of the period. The Central Texas Blackland Prairie Anglo plantation economy, which had been established in the 1820s, gradually changed in the 1840s and ’50s, as German and then Czech immigrants arrived, creating small family-operated farms. Dubina, Czech for “oak grove,” was the first solely Czech-Moravian town in Texas. By the end of the 19th century, it was an important regional center for Czech commerce, education, and religion. From 1909 to 1911, San Antonio-based architect Leo M.J. Dielmann designed and built Sts.
Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church. Characterized by the Carpenter Gothic style with tall, narrow, four-over-four, pointed-arch windows, the church is a basilican three-aisle plan. A steep gabled roof covers the rectangular volume
The interior transforms the basic tectonic armature of columns and vaults with painted ornament of a decidedly Central European peasant character. with bracketed overhangs. The west facade is punctuated by a two-stage tower with a square, two-story base section and an octagonal upper
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