The Chapel on the Dunes in Port Aransas isn't grand, but it is still a church, one where the beach is visible in the distance through the window beside the small altar.
On a 26-foot dune that is the highest natural point on the island, the 250-square-foot white stucco and wood building was the first Protestant house of worship on the island. Aline Carter, the Poet Laureate of Texas from 1947 to 1949, built the chapel in the late Thirties as a devotional space for her family when they vacationed on the island. The limestone flagstones for the floor were hauled in the family car from their San Antonio home.
In the Seventies, Texas artist John Cobb restored the chapel and painted a mural that covers the walls and ceiling. The three clear windows and three stained-glass windows bathe Cobb's abstract Bible story in a soft light. The washed colors of angels, saints, and sinners tug at visitors to stop and decipher their meaning.
About the size of single-car garage, the chapel was popular for weddings for a while, but now is accessible only by tour. The Carter Family still owns the property and Aline's son Frank, who is 95 years old, lives nearby.
Chapel on the Dunes is open on the first and third Friday and Saturday of the month. For more information, call the Port Aransas Museum at 361/749-3800 or go to www.portaransasmuseum.org.
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