For many visitors to Mustang Island and Port Aransas, the idea of a tiny, secluded chapel nestled in the sand dunes is like a hidden treasure. The beautiful little white chapel is tucked away from the crowds of beach-goers and known only to avid Port Aransas history-lovers.
The Chapel on the Dunes is a picturesque hidden gem that offers unparalleled views of the sunrise, sunset and surrounding sand dunes.
Here are 5 things you may not have known about the Chapel on the Dunes.
Where it’s located
The Chapel on the Dunes is located in an older section of Port Aransas in a residential area at 203 South 11th Street (where it intersects with Avenue B). While built on private property, the Chapel is situated on top of a beautiful sand dune behind the main house on the property.
It is said that the Chapel is built on the highest point on Mustang Island. When we drove by last Fall, we almost missed seeing it from the road. So look closely between the homes and you may spot it from the street, depending on the time of year.
Who built it
Known locally as the “the little Chapel”, it was built between 1937-1938 by Aline B. Carter. Mrs. Carter was a Texas-born poet and humanitarian who lived on Mustang Island, and was Poet Laureate of Texas from 1947-1949.
Being a very spiritual woman, she was called the “White Angel” because of her flowing, white organdy dresses and loving service to the surrounding community. The Carter family still owns and maintains the Chapel.
Why it was built
Mrs. Carter used her charming little Chapel for meditation and inspiration for writing her poetry books. It was (and still is today) a place of spiritual refuge and peace.
Can you imagine the soft morning light from the sunrise over the gulf, and the bold sunset light from the bay shining through the small windows each day? Mrs. Carter sometimes referred to her little chapel as the Chapel of Eternal Light.
After her death 1972, artist John Patrick Cobb painted the white-washed interior with inspiring Biblical murals. The murals depict Old Testament stories along the north wall, and imagery from the New Testament on the south wall.
Click on the video below to watch and hear the history of the Chapel on the Dunes, featuring Aline Carter’s daughter-in-law Aubrey Keating Carter.
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What it is used for today
The Chapel on the Dunes hosts a few private functions these days, mostly small weddings and baptisms. The interior is quite small with just a few pews and standing room in the back, holding at most about 16-20 people. While there are beautiful views of the sand dunes and refreshing island breezes, there is no air-conditioning in the Chapel.
For Port Aransas locals, the cost of the chapel rental is $250 and for others it rents for $350. The rental fees are put toward a maintenance fund for the Chapel, as well as a 10% donation to the local Port Aransas Museum.
How you can tour it
As beautiful and enticing as visiting the chapel may seem, please remember that it sits on private property. The Carter Family still owns the Chapel and welcomes the community to visit through tours organized by the Port Aransas Museum.
Given the Chapel’s historical nature, the Port Aransas Museum offers guided Chapel tours on the first and third Saturday of each month. You can make tour reservations by calling 361-749-3800.
How to learn more
Chapel on the Dunes
203 South 11th Street