THROWBACK THURSDAY: Church demolition prompts memories of yesteryears

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The original Santa Rosa Catholic Church as it appeared a few years back. The building was torn down last week. (Courtesy Photo)

The original Santa Rosa Catholic Church as it appeared a few years back. The building was torn down last week. (Courtesy Photo)

By JAMES WEAR

I am hoping my Liberty Hill readers will forgive me as I once again venture a bit outside of the city limits over to Andice, where this past week, a building myself and many others considered a historical structure was razed over the course of two or three days.

The original home of Santa Rosa de Lima, located just a few yards east of the Andice General Store, is no more, as the new owner of the property directed workers to take the building down to the ground. Church members, from my understanding, had a couple of years back traded the building and the property it sat upon for property located by its current church facilities (located just up the road by the Andice Cemetery) to build a new education center that’s presently under construction.

The trade, while perhaps in the best interests of the rapidly growing parish, still left some of us older Andice folks a bit sad as the tiny chapel was where many of us had grown up worshipping.

According to the late Harold Asher, considered by many to have been one of Andice’s foremost historians, the chapel was built in 1937 on a piece of property the church purchased for $50 from Charley Stapp.

Asher wrote, in a book he published in 1987 about Andice, that “most of the labor in building the church was done by the members.”

The original building, from what I could determine from its demolition, had what is termed “washboard” wooden siding and a wood shingle roof. Later on, the roof was covered with fiberglass shingles and the wooden siding was covered with vinyl siding.

According to an article that appeared in the Aug. 15, 1999 edition of The Sunday Sun, Santa Rosa got its start when an order of Catholic priests from the Holy Cross of Notre Dame came to Williamson County to minister to migrant workers from Mexico. Other churches founded at that time included ones in Georgetown and Round Rock.

A sidebar appearing with the article in The Sunday Sun included excerpts of text from a letter written by Father Fred Schmidt to the Austin bishop. Father Schmidt noted the first Mass he attended in Andice was held outdoors in a nearby Catholic cemetery as the chapel was still under construction.

“During that first Mass by Father Tom Culhane, the wind blew the host from the altar. I retrieved it and Father Tom placed the paten over it.”

Father Schmidt also noted that during his drive up to Andice the “dirt road” from Andice to Georgetown was undergoing repairs and, due to heavy rain, his second-hand Chevy, loaded with Christmas gifts, got stuck in the mud. He was able to convince a reluctant local farmer to use a team of mules to pull his vehicle to solid ground. Schmidt recalled he was an hour or so late, but families were still waiting when he arrived.

Growing up, I recall Sunday morning services with a priest from Georgetown or Granger or Corn Hill driving up to hold Mass. Later on, Mass would often be held on Saturday evenings. My mother insisted that we sit on the front row, a practice that my oldest brother and sister later said they also experienced. We were perhaps one of two families attending Santa Rosa that were not of Mexican descent. Prior to Mass, catechism (religious education) classes were held in a building located behind the church.

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