The popular tour benefits GHF’s ongoing restoration of St. Joseph’s Church, the oldest wooden church building in Galveston and the oldest German Catholic church in Texas. A wide range of religious traditions and building styles will be featured, highlighting the island’s rich religious heritage while showcasing the depth and range of Galveston’s sacred architecture. The 2017 tour will be presented in conjunction with Galveston Historical Foundation’s annual Galveston Heritage Festival.

“Galveston’s Sacred Places are a significant part of our history. When you tour these great buildings you can learn the story of some of the lives of generations of Galvestonians,” states GHF Executive Director Dwayne Jones. “This tour is a glimpse into our past and one that will broaden your idea of what living on the island is really like.”

Check in for the Sacred Places Tour will be held at St. Joseph’s Church, 2202 Avenue K, starting at 9 a.m. You will be given a map of additional churches which you can visit from 9 am – 1 pm.


Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Galveston’s Central Christian Church was founded in 1877. In 1893 the church was reorganized, under the direction of Reverend J.W. Lowber, who served as the first chancellor of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. With instructions from the American Christian Missionary Society, Lowber reached Galveston to find a few faithful disciples meeting on Sundays at 12th Street and Avenue K.  It was under his guidance that a small brick church was erected at 20th Street and Avenue K. That building served until it was sold in 1922.

Saint_Joseph's_Church__Galveston-5St. Joseph’s German Catholic Church

By the middle of the 19th century, Galveston Island was home to somewhere between two and three thousand German immigrants, almost half the total population. The church was dedicated in April 1860, making it the oldest wooden church building in Galveston. The building is a simple wooden Gothic Revival structure, rectangular with a square bell tower with trefoil window. The softly painted interior features a coffered ceiling with painted quatrefoils and other Gothic symbols, plaster of Paris Stations of the Cross with German inscriptions dating from the early years of the 20th century and the original, elaborate main and side altars with reredos as well as many of the original statues and altar furnishings. The altars were designed by Nicholas J. Clayton in 1887.

christchapelSwedish Zion Lutheran Church, Christ Chapel

In the nineteenth century many Swedes who immigrated to Texas settled in Galveston. With the largest port west of the Mississippi River, the island city was a good place to make a living and raise a family.  After meeting informally for at least a year, the group that became known as the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church of Galveston was organized on October 2, 1881. In December, 1894, the young congregation made plans to build a chapel measuring 26 by 40 feet on Eighteenth Street near Market.  The small frame chapel, finished the following year, was home to the Zion Lutheran Church for more than a quarter of a century, surviving the 1900 Storm that so devastated the congregation.

stmarysSt. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica

St. Mary’s is the first Roman Catholic cathedral in Texas and the mother church of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  From this diocese, fifteen other dioceses have been formed. St. Mary’s Parish was created in 1841. St. Mary’s Cathedral became a Texas Historic Landmark in 1968, recognized by the Texas Historical Commission for its role in the state’s culture, history and heritage; it is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1979 Saint Mary’s Cathedral received an Apostolic Brief making it a minor basilica.  Basilica honors are bestowed upon certain churches because of their antiquity, historic importance or significance as a center of worship.

augustineSaint Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church

St. Augustine of Hippo is the oldest African-American Episcopal Church in the State of Texas. The congregation was first organized in 1884 at the urging of seamen from the West Indies.  Services were held for the seamen at Grace Church on Wednesdays and Fridays. The first confirmation service was held at Grace Church on March 22, 1885.