Discover Beaumont's Historic Churches and Temples in 2 Days.
When settlers have come to Southeast Texas - from the earliest pioneers who moved into the woods, prairies, and water-laced reaches of this region to the most recent arrivals - they have built structures to house their faiths. Follow Beaumont's Faith Trail to experience these historic, significant, and unique churches, temples, and religious centers.
St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica
Tyrrell Historical Library
First Presbyterian Church
Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center
Buu Mon Buddhist Temple
Queen of Peace Shrine & Gardens
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church & Shrine
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
First United Methodist Church
Jewish Temple Emanuel
Day 1:Beaumont hosts several historic churches that are outgrowths of its earliest congregations. One of the most significant is the mother church of Catholic Southeast Texas, St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI granted St. Anthony the designation of Minor Basilica, one of only four in Texas. The church's beginnings stretch back into Beaumont's early history, when in 1879 pioneer priest Father Vitalus Quinon built St. Louis, a small frame church at Bowie and Orleans. In May 1895 the church was moved to its present location, and in 1903 the cornerstone was laid for a new church, completed in 1907 and dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua. Today's visitor will be inspired by its many art and religious treasures, including the century-old statue of St. Anthony greeting visitors high above the main entrance, the soaring dome depicting the glory of heaven, the beautiful array of German and French stained glass windows, priceless mosaics, icons, paintings, reliquaries, and the true heart of the renovated basilica, the beautiful baldachino, and the Carrara marble altar. Docent-led tours of St. Anthony's can be arranged by appointment and take roughly an hour and a half.
Next, head to downtown Beaumont for a visit to the Tyrrell Historical Library. Constructed in 1903 as the First Baptist Church of Beaumont, the rough-quarried limestone exterior instantly reminds the first-time viewer of a medieval castle. Open to visitors Monday through Saturday, the Library now houses genealogical archives for Beaumont and Southeast Texas.
In nearby Orange, visitors can experience the grandeur of the First Presbyterian Church. One of the most distinctive buildings in the Southeast Texas, this Greek-Revival-style building is built of native Texas pink granite and was dedicated January 28, 1912. The church features divided stairways of Italian marble in the foyer that lead to the sanctuary where visitors will find the only opalescent glass dome in the country. Protected by an outer dome of copper, it is comprised of sixteen angelic figures arced to fashion the 36-foot dome. The three central windows in the upper foyer were prize-winning works at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. These three windows, as well as the other windows in the church, were crafted by the J&R Lamb Studios. Tours are by appointment only, Monday through Friday.
Also in Orange, we suggest you take an hour (or two) to explore Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center. While not a church, visiting Shangri La is definitely a religious experience. This platinum level LEED certified facility is one of the most Earth-friendly projects in the world and is worth a detour before heading back to Beaumont for dinner at one of our many restaurants.
Port Arthur hosts its share of unique places of worship. The Buu Mon Buddhist Temple was established in 1980 in Beaumont-from which it takes its name. The temple, dedicated Aug. 15, 1987, is a four-tiered pagoda tower symbolizing tenets of Buddhism and housing a seven-foot-tall gilt-bronze statue of Buddha. In 1988, the Abbot of Buu Mon, Venerable Huyen Viet, established a garden on the temple grounds that has become a showplace, internationally known for its many varieties of lotus, water lilies, and bamboo. The temple entices visitors from all over Texas and other parts of the United States for its free Lotus Garden Tour, held annually in June. Tours of both the Temple and the Gardens are available by appointment.
Also in Port Arthur, you'll find the Queen of Peace Shrine and Gardens at Queen of Vietnam Church which was inaugurated in 1983. This Hoa-Binh (Area of Peace), featuring beautiful gardens and statue of the Virgin Mary three times life size, was built by parishioners of the Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church in gratitude for their welcome to Port Arthur. The Shrine and Gardens are not gated so they can be viewed anytime.
Next, head to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Shrine. Founded in 1927 by Father Marcelino Ruiz from Mexico, this site pays tribute to the Mexican American culture in Southeast Texas. Dedicated on June 3, 2000, the shrine portrays the story of one of the most famous miracles in the history of Catholicism, Our Lady of Guadalupe. The 17' bronze statue in patina color was sculptured by artist Miguel Angel Macias, from Mexico City and Port Arthur artist, Douglas Clark. It is set directly on top of rocks brought to Port Arthur from Mount Tepeyac, Mexico City, Mex., where the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego. The 7' bronze statue of St. Juan Diego, sculpted by the same artists, was placed on the shrine site November 2, 2001. Tours of the church are by appointment only; however, the Shrine can be viewed anytime.
Head back to Beaumont for lunch at Willy Burger, where you can enjoy a fresh burger in a refurbished 1971 Airstream trailer. Known for their fresh-ground hamburger meat and local ingredients, these burgers are Willy, Willy Good!
After lunch, take Calder Avenue to downtown Beaumont for a visit to St. Mark's Episcopal and First United Methodist. St. Mark's Episcopal Church traces its beginnings back to 1877, when a congregation of six requested that the Episcopal Church of America be established in Beaumont. Today's congregation attends services in a 1942 Spanish-style brick-and-stucco building nestled under ancient live oaks. The church offers a graceful carved cypress Rood screen and one of the finest organs in the country, a magnificent 1962 Aeolian-Skinner. Tours are available by appointment, Monday through Friday.
First United Methodist Church had its beginnings with the "Alligator Circuit," as itinerant preachers dubbed their route through this region of lakes, rivers and bayous. John Fletcher Pipkin, an early circuit rider and lay minister here, held regular worship services as early as 1852 in homes and underbrush arbors. The present church, designed by Beaumont architect Rex Goode, was established in 1968 and features the Gothic arch as a theme throughout. It contains a 1942 Aeolian-Skinner organ and is known for its stunning stained glass windows by the Willett Studios of Philadelphia. Tours are available by appointment.
While you're in the neighborhood, see the Jewish Temple Emanuel. Congregation Temple Emanuel was established in September 1895 and the current magnificent copper-domed building dedicated in 1923, a result of a collaboration of Rabbi Samuel Rosinger, architect Alfred Gottlieb, and artist Ze'ev Raban. Visitors are welcome by appointment for guided tours to the beautifully and lovingly restored Temple, which includes historic and religious treasures in its octagonal sanctuary: Raban's massive leaded glass windows depicting the principal prophets of Judaism; the Holy Ark on the east wall, containing the Torah; a white marble tablet displaying the first words of the Ten Commandments; and the central chandelier, in the shape of a star of David. Tours are available by appointment.
For a dining experience you're sure to become devoted (or addicted) to, grab a bite to eat at Sartin's West Seafood, famous for their BBQ crabs. Caught fresh in the Gulf of Mexico, these are a Southeast Texas favorite with a cult following.
If you're in town for Easter, we invite you to enjoy a live outdoor Passion drama, "The Last Days of Christ." The production features more than 500 actors and workers from 60 different churches portraying some of the most dramatic scenes from last days of Christ. The drama takes place in the open field adjacent to Legacy Christian High School (8200 Highway 105; Beaumont, Texas 77713), Thursday - Saturday of Easter Weekend with continuous live presentations from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
The Golden Triangle's historic churches and temples pay a rich spiritual dividend for any visitor - or any worshipper. Come and see for yourself.