Surrounded by acres of pristine wilderness that includes hundreds of grand oak trees and hill country cedar, approximately 8.5 miles northeast of Bandera, Texas, stands the humble and beloved structure known as Polly’s Chapel. Jose Policarpio ”Polly” Rodriguez, who was one of the first settlers of San Antonio and Bandera, was the builder of the chapel.
Polly Rodriguez was quite well known in the San Antonio and Bandera area in the mid 1800s, because he had served for many years as scout and guide to numerous U.S. generals helping develop the roads and towns that would help cultivate travel and commerce in early Texas. He had served his community as a Texas Ranger, Justice of the Peace and had become a successful rancher.
His success allowed him to sell homesteading land to relatives and other settlers, which eventually enabled him to develop a small township known as Polly, Texas along the banks of the Privilege and Bear Creeks. At the time, about 30 families lived in the community and local amenities included a post office, school and general store.
Although Polly had the support of family members, friends and community leaders, it is believed that the construction of the chapel, which began in 1879, was planned, handcrafted and built primarily by Polly. He began his task by choosing a location on his ranch less than 200 feet from Privilege Creek and adjacent to the community crossroads. He situated the building on a small rise with a northeast to southwest axis in order to take advantage of the prevailing southwestern breezes.
The completed chapel is a simple rectangular, one-story plan, measuring 23 feet by 43 feet, which equals 1,024 square feet. There are no interior columns and the layout was constructed to seat up to 100 worshipers during services. The entrance faces the Southeast and features double doors in its center.
In 1986, Polly’s Chapel was registered with the Texas Historical Commission and became an official Texas Historical Landmark.
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