Boynton Chapel Methodist in Third Ward to receive recognition by Texas as historic landmark

Briana Conner Image
Friday, December 29, 2023
Church housed in Third Ward to be deemed historical landmark by state
Boynton Chapel Methodist will be recognized as a historical landmark in the state of Texas after nearly 143 years of service.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A historic church in Houston's Third Ward will have more than just their marquee outside soon. The state recognizes Boynton Chapel Methodist Church as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, and they'll have a sign in front to show for it.

Boynton's mid-century modern building is significant for many reasons, but the designation recognizes more than that. It's the history of the congregation and the work they've done outside of their church walls that has helped them achieve this honor.

Boynton Chapel's legacy is etched into old cornerstones dating back to the 1880s when Boynton Chapel Methodist Church was first founded in Third Ward. Behind them sit steps leading to two sets of giant wooden doors adorned with crosses that have welcomed decades of worshippers, including integration-era leaders like Christia Adair and Madgelean Bush.

"As I speak to you about them, I look around the building and into the community. It's just a wonderful opportunity for us to continue that legacy that started in 1880," Pastor Linda Davis said.

The opportunity Pastor Linda Davis spoke of results from their continued community impact, on top of how Boynton's congregation has preserved the church building. It was dedicated in 1958 and designed by the state's first state-licensed black architect.

Today, much of John Chase's original work remains: tan brick, pink marble, and walls of multicolor stained-glass windows on the exterior. Inside the sanctuary are hundreds of crosses.

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Minister Larry Guillory said, "This is, I think, just an ideal chapel look for me. I know it might not be for everyone, but I like it the way it is. We tried to keep that original design," Minister Larry Guillory said.

Chase's masterful use of natural light emphasizes his belief that a sanctuary should be "a place where reverence is invited and worship is inspired." "I think he'd find it very interesting that people are beginning to look at his work in a way, through a lens, that they haven't until now," Tony Chase, John's son, said.

Tony said his father's craftsmanship should be remembered along with his legacy as a history-maker. His intricate design for Boynton was one of his first commissions, and it also incorporates stained glass artwork by Caroll Simms. Simms helped to establish and build the art department at Texas Southern University.

David Bush with Preservation Houston worked with church leaders to help research and apply for the recorded Texas historic landmark designation. He said, "Our mission is to promote both the preservation of Houston's cultural heritage and our architectural heritage. Boynton just fit right in there."

The state honor means the church will receive a marker displaying the congregation's history and the significance of the building. Guillory said, "People are going to stop, and they're going to read it, and they're going to think about it. Most people want to be a part of something, and that something is usually good."

The state will also reimburse the church for renovation work done to preserve the building. One project would reveal part of Chase's design in the ceiling that's been covered up to prevent leaks. Church member Eddie Henderson can remember things like they were before. He said, "The sunset would light that place up. That's God's sun coming through that."

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"Man, I would love to have those crosses back open and have that natural light there," Pastor Davis added.

It's an opportunity to shine more light into Boynton as the congregation continues to reflect it into the community, perhaps for another 100 years.

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