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

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

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