WESTPHALIA, TX — A 124-year-old historical church was destroyed by a fire in Falls County Monday morning. Many people in the community were shocked as they reminisced about the memories that were created in The Church of the Visitation over the last several decades. For one family in particular, this church was their second home for more than 50 years.
It was a day no one in Westphalia saw coming. "I just could not believe it. We came and it was down and they say it went fast," said Geraldine Hoelscher, who spent her whole life at The Church of the Visitation.
The church was quickly engulfed in flames, with little left after the destruction.
"When I got the call and I looked this way and saw the flames, I knew it was gone and I knew there was no way of stopping anything like that," said Dale Hoelscher, Geraldine's son and fellow Church of the Visitation parishioner, "It was heartbreaking to see it."
The church was a place where many people created important memories. For the Hoelscher family, some of those memories go back decades.
"I went to school here. We walked to school. We came up here and our seven kids went to school here," Geraldine reminisced.
"When I was 20, I would open the windows so the church would be cool in the summertime," remembered Elmer Hoelscher, Geraldine's husband.
Geraldine and Elmer were raised in Westphalia. Coming to The Church of the Visitation was everything for them.
"I was born, raised, baptized and married here," said Geraldine.
"I've seen a lot of changes and I loved it," said Elmer, choking back tears at the thought of the memories he made at this church over his lifetime.
Elmer and Geraldine made sure their seven children attended The Church of the Visitation. All of them were married in the church too.
"It wasn't a choice but we did it, but it was great," said Dale Hoelscher, "We grew up a mile and a half away. We walked to school and church, and it's going to hurt to lose so much history of what was here."
The Hoelscher family created memories they will never forget. But they also know they live in a community that will unite and only grow stronger from here.
"We will come back bigger and stronger than we ever have," said Dale.
"We always thought so much of this church, but it's in the past and we know it will be rebuilt," said Geraldine.