Day Trips: Houston Temple, Houston

Intricate wooden temple goes up in smoke in November


photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Houston Temple looks strangely out of place in a warehouse parking lot about 4 miles southeast of downtown Houston. The intricate art piece will only be there until November, when it will be torched as a memorial to loved ones who have passed.

Resembling an Asian pagoda, the temple has a rocket-shaped spire rising 35-feet above the gravel. The structure was designed by artist David Best, who constructed nine temporary temples at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.


Looking somewhat like it was made from a wooden 3D model kit, the structure is a series of swirls, waves, and circles made of salvaged scrap wood. Hidden lights illuminate the elaborate lattice as the sun goes down, giving the non-religious building a spiritual look.

Best built the temple in part as a remembrance of his friends, the artists and art patrons Ann Harithas and her partner Jesse Lott, who co-founded Houston’s Art Car Museum. Both passed away recently. Among his many art projects around the world, Best built a temple to honor the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida. This is his first temple in Texas.


Visitors are welcome to write memorials on provided squares of wood to loved ones who have passed. The burning of the temple is meant to send the messages on to the spirit world and to be cathartic for the sender. Those that can’t visit Houston can add remembrances in an online form. These messages will be included in the public burning in November.

Houston Temple is open for free on Thursdays from 6 to 9pm in the lot behind Smither Park and the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which is currently closed for restoration. The temple will be burned in a public ceremony on Nov. 9. For details and to RSVP, go to www.full.orangeshow.org/davidbest.


1,706th in a series. Everywhere is a day trip from somewhere: Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Day Trips
Day Trips: Dining in Bastrop
Day Trips: Dining in Bastrop
Three downtown Bastrop cafes that will wow you

Gerald E. McLeod, June 14, 2024

Day Trips: Bend, Texas
Day Trips: Bend, Texas
Five reasons to take the Bend in the road

Gerald E. McLeod, May 31, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Houston Temple, Houston, David Best, Burning Man, Ann Harithas, Jesse Lott, Art Car Museum, Orange Show

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle