ST. PETER THE APOSTLE CATHOLIC CHURCH
800 Block S. Main, Boerne
HISTORY: ST. PETER THE APOSTLE CATHOLIC CHURCH,
The first priest assigned to Boerne in 1860 was
a young French immigrant, Rev. Emil L.J. Fleury. He was given the
task of building a church in the Hill Country. The acreage
selected for the first congregation was a hillside plot on the
south side of the Cibolo. The land was transferred from William F. Kernaghan to the
Rev.Claude M. Dubuis, Bishop of Galveston.
Fleury, who had considerable knowledge of construction, went to Fredericksburg to hire stone masons and learn how to make lime for the mortar that would bond the stones.
He returned with two masons who agreed to work if Fleury would furnish their room and board. Fleury arranged with Mr. Phillips, who owned the inn nearby, for room and board for his men-again on credit.
Fleury and the workers quarried the limestone used for the church at the Herff Ranch. A hand-dug well was located on the right side of the church not only for the priests, but also for the animals of the ranchers who came to worship. A kiln was built on top of Kronkosky Hill for the making of lime. The young deacon cut and dressed stones along with his masons, and raised $200 to defray building costs. Parishioners Phillips, Schertz, Staffel, Dienger, Daizer, Sultenfuss, O'Grady, Kunz, Acker, Beck, Riley and Kaiser assisted the deacon along with a number of Hispanic men whose names have been lost. George Wilkins Kendall was a major contributor to the church, and records show that Casper Sultenfuss donated labor and material for the completion of the church.
At one point during the construction, Fleury was so exhausted he fell asleep on the scaffolding, and not on his pallet as he usually did. That night Indians raided the church and shot arrows into the blanket that covered Fleury's bed. The priest was spared. His horse, however, didn't fare as well; it was found dead behind the Philip's Hotel where it had been tied. The church and the horse were the only items of interest to the Indians that night.
By 1866 or 1867 the church was completed and debt free. Deacon Fleury began his studies at the Seminary in San Antonio. This was the beginning of St. Peter's Parish in Boerne. After his ordination on January 21, 1868, Father Fleury became the first resident priest at St. Peter's , serving Boerne and the surrounding area. In 1869 he was transferred to St. Peter and Paul in New Braunfels. Sometime between the completion of the church and the turn of the century, a cross was added to the top of the steeple, a window was replaced by a door to a side porch with a roof, the sacristy, which is believed to have been originally built of logs, was built of concrete block, and two windows were cut into the front of the church - one on each side of the entrance.
By 1916 the inside walls had been plastered, and the front porch with shingled roof had been added. A side chimney was built to accommodate a stove so that the church itself could be heated.
When the second church was dedicated in 1923, the little church had doors that were no longer plain, but had designs on them.
By the time the old building was replaced by the new, it had begun its decline. To begin with, the church was stripped of its altar, pews and other religious trappings which were moved to the new church. This building was then used for classes, church socials and as a meeting room. About 1971 there was a renovation done and it continued in operation for these same purposes. Time and usage contributed to more decline.
In 1978 a Restoration and Preservation Committee was formed for the purpose of raising funds to make repairs, and for the restoration of the church. Extensive work was done- including a new roof and a concrete floor in the back portion of the building.
ST. PETER THE APOSTLE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1923. Because of
growth within the parish, and the decline of the first church
building, a new building was dedicated and blessed by the Most
Reverend A. J. Drossaerts on December 30, 1923.
Mr. Kronkosky contributed substantially to the fund for this church which was begun in 1920 and completed three years later in 1923. Father P. J. Flanagan was resident pastor when the construction began. Father J. Rainville was resident pastor in 1923 when it was completed.
The new church was modeled after San Antonio's Mission de la Purisma (1730) and measures 38 x 85 feet, 21 feet high with twin towers that rise sixty-five feet in the air. The church is located on the hill beside the first church, south of Cibolo Creek on Main Street.
The central arch is white marble. The walls are native limestone, and the mortar is rounded and shaped like rope. Imbedded in the front of the church flanking the entrance doors are two round geodes giving the impression of cannon balls. Another two are located on each side of the center front window about three fourths of the way up the window. Fossil shells that are found in profusion in the Hill Country are found in the rock work next to the cornerstone and throughout the exterior walls.
William Schwarz of Boerne was the builder and Joseph Sotello, Sr. was the rock mason. Parishioners Lamm, Hugman, Kaiser, Cole, Jo Schwarz and Rudolph Pfeiffer also played an important part in contributing labor and materials to the building.
The construction of the new edifice was a group effort, and many parishioners donated and collected the rocks that were used for the exterior walls. Willie Cole donated rocks from his own property. William Schwarz hauled rocks from the Hall Ranch. Yet another source of rock building material appeared in the form of a rock fence of Judge Malner Shumard's property.
Albert Kronkosky donated the first windows for the church which were clear glass. Later the clear glass was replaced by leaded glass through donations by many families.
Throughout the years the church building has undergone few changes. The unadorned light bulbs were replaced by ornate Spanish fixtures to complement the Spanish mission architecture, and the wooden doors were replaced by metal ones. The interior fixtures have been changed to reflect the changes made by the Second Ecumenical Council in the 1960's.
Source: Davidson, Anna Marie S., ed., "History of St. Peter's Catholic Church, Boerne, Texas", 1986.
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