Best of Houston

The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Churches & Temples (Architecturally)

Houston is home to several of the country's leading mega-churches so we thought we'd look at the city's religious architecture. Does "great big congregation" automatically translate into "grand and glorious?" Ah, that would be a no.

Before we start our list of Top 10 Churches, let's take a quick look at what's not on the list. Lakewood Church is notably absent. Huge church, huge congregation but it's all housed inside a former basketball stadium that still looks remarkably like a basketball stadium. Yes, they added a stage, an altar, some jumbo screens and changed up the seating, but the basic structure of the building is still the same. It's a basketball stadium.

Also not on our list is the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The inside's not so bad - if you like plain and severe, it's the outside that galls us. It's just plain ugly. (We hope Cardinal DiNardo gets our name right on the excommunication order.) It doesn't suit the space, the scale is all wrong and it's seriously uninviting. It looks like a McMansion with a tiny cross on the roof. We can't really blame Lakewood for looking unchurch-like, it took a standing structure and converted it. But Sacred Heart was designed from the ground up. And it's ugly.

Second Baptist is also missing from our Top 10. In the case of Second Baptist, there wasn't one particular building on any of its five campuses that stood out from the others. Second Baptist does big very well, it just doesn't do it spectacularly well architecturally.

10. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church 7250 Harrisburg

We start our list with the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, located in East End. Standing since the early 1900s, the building echoes the early Texas missions. It's more modest in size than the others that made the Top 10.

9. Christ Church Cathedral 1117 Texas Avenue

Where Immaculate Conception is all straight, simple lines, Christ Church Cathedral has an abundance of ornate flourishes. Inside, the church's ceiling is an intricate maze of wood beams. Outside, it's a little more subdued, but still very elegant. The church was founded in1839 on the same site where it stands today.

8. Trinity Episcopal Church 1015 Holman

An excellent - and excellently maintained - neo-Gothic building, Trinity Episcopal was built in 1919 and designed by Cram and Ferguson. In addition to worship duties, it's the home of the annual Trinity Jazz Festival.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez