San Pedro Church restoration begins

Photo by Charlie Jaquez Volunteers brought their skills to a weekend renovation effort of the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Catholic Church in San Pedro on April 19-20.

COSTILLA COUNTY — The San Pedro Church Restoration Committee sponsored a two-day workshop on April 19 and 20 to begin the restoration efforts of the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Catholic Church in San Pedro.

According to research by Dr. Maria Mondragon-Valdez of San Luis, the adobe construction church was constructed in 1933 after a fire destroyed the original church built in 1893. An earlier jacal church of upright logs chinked with mud was built further south on the church's cemetery grounds. By 1890 that jacal (a temporary construction made of upright logs) church was in ruins and the cemetery was decommissioned by Costilla County and the Colorado State Highway Department in 1952.

This Endangered Places Program Weekend Workshop was facilitated by Colorado Preservation, a non-profit organization that promotes historic preservation statewide by providing advocacy, education, outreach, and preservation services. History Colorado also provided funding for this project. The facilitators included an architect, an archaeologist, a structural engineer, and a construction foreman from Fort Collins, and an adobe expert from Durango. Between 20 and 30 volunteers assisted with the project.

This year, Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI) placed nine Costilla County mission churches, including the Saint Peter & Saint Paul Church, on Colorado's Most Endangered Places list.

Church Restoration Committee members provided lunches which included delicious red chili, posole, menudo, and tortillas. Although the work was hard, the event was uplifting and joyous. The Committee thanked organizers Frank Vigil, Committee Chair, and Carlos Atencio, Church Mayordomo, for the excellent planning and organizing of this important event.

The community volunteers appreciated the consultant's work, observations, recommendations, and genuine advocacy. Many friendships were established.

The construction investigation work included excavating seven holes along the foundation; grinding and cutting nine test patches of stucco, opening trap doors on the church floor to inspect the floor joists; and assessing the water and salt damage to lower wall adobes plus doing considerable assessment of the bell tower. This work is not yet complete before a formal repair plan is done.

The Historic Structure Assessment presented by Scheuber and Darden Architects in 2015 proposed a six-year work plan and budget. More of these work sessions will occur and the time and dates will be announced. This project and fundraising are gaining momentum and is being promoted by a committed and energetic local committee. The San Pedro Church Restoration Committee thanks the community and advocates. For more information and how to make donations, call 719-672-3511.