Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church - High Hill, Texas
Architect: Leo Dielmann
Artist: Stockert and Kern
Builder: Frank Bohlman
The following text was taken from a brochure I got from the church.
This church was originally established in 1860, and the church and the community of High Hill, Texas, enjoy a recorded history dating back to the mid-1800s.
During the European immigration near 1860, several families of Austrian and German descent discovered High Hill. They were looking for religious freedom and oppurtunities in the new world.
At first, life in the rugged new country was difficult. The new Texans had to travel to neighboring communities to celebrate such things as Christmas Mass. Finally, in 1869, the first church was built. Lumber for that church was hauled from Columbus, Texas, by ox-wagon and sawed at the local saw mill. They laid a brick foundation and began construction of the first church building. On September 8, 1870, the first Catholic church of High Hill was blessed.
The coummunity continued to grow and in 1875, the second church of High Hill was completed. Meanwhile, the old church building became the site of the first Catholic school at High Hill and served as the school building until 1922.
St. Mary Church as it stands today is the third church to be built on the original nine acres deeded to the church in 1868. It uses a classic example of the Gothic Revival style construction while displaying late Victorian features and European background of the German and Czech Moravian settlers of the area. Once construction began on the current church, the old church was dismantled and material, wherever possible, was used in the new church.
The original 18 stained glass windows from the second church were placed into the present church, and 5 new windows were placed in the sanctuary. Later, 2 more were added on either side of the tower.
The final decoration, artwork, wall, and ceiling were not completed until 1912. On September 8, 1906, the new brick church of High Hill was blessed, and the cornerstone for the structure was installed.
In 1909, a hurricane caused damage to the cross surrounding the spire, pushing it over at a right angle. Today, this cross still dominates the horizon.
The pulpit, a communion rail, and baptismal enclosure were not completed until 1910, and the three altars were placed in the church in 1911. Each of the altars were gifts of church parishioners.
Three bells from the second church were placed in the belfry of the current church and remain operational today.
North of the present church is a beautiful marble cross on a mound surrounded by cedar trees. The cross was placed there from its former location in the front of the second church. It was originally placed there in 1891.
The advent of continued growth and industrialization to Texas hepled High Hill flourish. the community had saw mills, blacksmith shops, and a post office. However, cotton farming became the mainstay of most landowners and, because the people of High Hill did not want a railroad, it remains a very small community today.