05/05/08 12:29pm

Tien Tao Temple, or Chong Hua Sheng Mu Holy Palace, Ashford Point, Houston

One highlight of David Beebe and John Nova Lomax’s Richmond Ave. walking tour mentioned here last week was Lomax’s description of this strange vision on the #25 bus route to Mission Bend:

Towards the end of the line, the bus turned left off Richmond and into a weird suburban residential neighborhood. Ashford Point, the street we were on, was bisected by a greenspace in which there was a sunken trail, which ducked under the streets in little tunnels.

And then there was… this thing, this sprawling empty complex, this five-story square building topped by a 40-foot golden geodesic dome, flanked by two smaller domes. Two exterior staircases flanked these orbs – the overall effect was something like a sawed-off Mayan temple of the sun.

The whole compound was ringed by an iron fence, and then there was another huge fence around the entry to the building. The vast parking lot was empty, and there were no signs nor apparently even a mailbox. It was completely surreal. Neither Beebe nor I had a clue what it was – Beebe thought it might be the private residence of a very weird Arab sheik. I thought at first that it might be a mosque, but it didn’t look much like one closer up.

After the jump: What was it?