Houston 101: That Weird Building Out On The West Side

Houston 101 is a new running feature seeking to educate the ignorant masses on some of the more offbeat bits of our town, whether it's long-gone music places, bizarre murders, political trivia or odd bits of construction.

Rising out of the strip mall-studded, boundless and bare scrub prairie suburbia of far Southwest Houston, the Chong Hua Sheng Mu Holy Palace (12800 Ashford Point) presents us with one the city's more surreal tableau: something that looks like a Mayan Epcot Center with touches of the Far East, crumbling and forlorn, amid a huge empty parking lot in the middle of nowhere.

It was originally slated to have been the centerpiece of the headquarters for the Wu-Wei Tien Tao Association, an East Asian universalist religion. Under the leadership of the aging Master Cheung, the Tien Tao faithful had grand plans: alongside this grandly bizarre edifice, there were to have been homes, shops and daycares scattered about the eleven-acre site, much to the chagrin of many of the workaday neighbors.

But such was not to be. In 1999, local sect leader Kwai Fun Yong was deported when she returned to her native Hong Kong to attend the funeral of sect patriarch Master Cheung, and the plans were halted in their tracks.

The six-million-dollar "Palace of the God" was the only building constructed, and today the deserted temple with the 40-foot geodesic dome lords over the Kingsbridge subdivision with the haughty grandeur of King Ozymandias. This most imposing of Alief-area architectural follies now seems destined for one of two fates: it will either be demolished, or a Hank Scorpio-esque villain will purchase it and repurpose it as his World Domination Headquarters.

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