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Sacred Heart Catholic Church

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1904, Brother Peter Jiménez; 1912, N. J. Clayton. 928 14th St.
  • (Photograph by Gerald Moorhead )
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

The institutional landmark of the East End of Broadway (what the Galveston Daily News in the 1880s called the “castle district”) is Sacred Heart Catholic Church, built to replace a larger, more ornate, and more accomplished French Romanesque–style predecessor by N. J. Clayton of 1892, destroyed in the Storm of 1900. Designed by a Spanish Jesuit lay brother, one of a team of Jesuits who had collaborated with Clayton on the construction of large churches Clayton designed for the order in Macon, Georgia, and Tampa, Florida, the church appears both exotic and overwhelmingly white. Its exoticism derives from Jiménez's architectural naiveté; the historical source for his awkward but engaging design was identified at the time of the church's dedication as the Puerta Santa María in Toledo, Spain, built in the thirteenth century as the Grand Synagogue of Toledo. The building's whiteness outside and inside accentuates this exoticism, since the stucco-faced, concrete church seems to glow in the intense radiance of Galveston's sunlight, offset by the file of slender Washingtonia palm trees lining the Broadway frontage. Clayton replaced Jiménez's original dome with an onion dome that possesses the spatial tautness and architectural authority the church otherwise lacks.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Sacred Heart Catholic Church", [Galveston, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 421-422.

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