Worship Spaces  Preservation / Adaptive Reuse  Religious

Founded in 1855, the St. Mary’s congregation promotes itself as the oldest Catholic Church in Fayette County. Early Czech and German immigrants built a church in the area known as Ross Prairie, but soon relocated the building to the present site to take advantage of sweeping views from the hill. The current structure was built in 1905, an early project of the prominent San Antonio church architect, Leo Dielmann.

A master planning process highlighted the importance of preserving the church, even though unsympathetic repairs had compromised the historic integrity. The original drawings were located in the Dielmann archives, so the architects were able to accurately recreate the steeple. Preservation work also consisted of removing all asbestos tiles and restoring the exterior wood siding. New piers replaced old wooden stumps as part of a number of structural repairs.

A rear addition in the 1930’s or 40’s had changed the altar area significantly. The architects reworked this space to feature the highly ornamented wooden reredos, which reportedly came from an older church and was given to the congregation sometime after St. Mary’s was dedicated. To better reflect the focus of modern liturgy, a new altar and ambo were designed and the baptismal font was restored and placed in the sanctuary area.