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"Preserving Architectural Heritage and Community Traditions in New Mexico and the Southwest"



San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Cornerstones Community Partnerships
San Miguel Chapel Preservation: The 2011 Work Season, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Click here to view presentation (PDF)

Tuesday, August 9, the last brick for the season was put in place by Emmitt Aguino, Marcos Talache, and Friday Barthuli - three young men who have been working at the San Miguel Chapel site all summer. The rest of the summer's work (and we'll still need volunteers) will consist of putting mud stucco on the remainder of the north and west walls. Work will resume next summer on the south wall - the final wall of this Santa Fe community project.

Cornerstones Community Partnerships and St. Michael's High School thank these very generous donors and volunteers for their support on our San Miguel Chapel Preservation Project 2010.

Click here for the full Thank You card

San Miguel Chapel, often known as the oldest church in the country, is the key site to the Barrio de Analco Historic District. Oral history holds that the barrio was founded by a group of Mexican Indians from Tlaxcala. The adobe church was constructed under the direction of Franciscan friars to serve a small congregation of soldiers, laborers, and Indians who lived in the Analco Barrio. It was partially destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. By the early-eighteenth century, San Miguel had become one of the principal ecclesiastical buildings in the provincial capital. The present building dates from 1710, although it has undergone significant structural changes.
San Miguel offers Latin Mass at 2:00 p.m. and Ordinary or New Mass at 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. The Schola Cantorum of Santa Fe sings Vespers and a Gregorian chant Mass every third Sunday of the month at 4:00 p.m. The Chapel is open during most of the week for prayer and for visitors.
Scope of Work/San Miguel Chapel /The Damage/Work in Progress/Volunteers: Yale, Breadloaf

Scope of Work

Lack of appropriate drainage and its impact on the structure. Rain and snow-melt runoff saturated the front yard where a historic camposanto (cemetery) exists. A new system was installed to improve drainage.

Portland cement stucco covered deterioration, resulting in trapped moisture in adobe walls. During the summer of 2010, the cement was removed from the chapel's east side which was then repaired and mud plastered. Cement plaster was removed from the north and west sides during the summer of 2011 and those walls also received repairs and mud plaster.

This summer, 2012, we are working on the south side, removing the stucco. The walls will then be repaired and mud plastered. As the old plaster is removed, the exposed wooden viga and corbel ends and the roof system will be assessed, repaired and stabilized as needed.

Negative effect of Portland Cement Plaster. This plaster inhibits the natural movement of moisture out of the wall and must be removed. The application of a historically accurate earthen plaster which will prevent moisture retention is recommended.

Vigas and Corbels. As plaster is removed, the exposed viga and corbel ends and the roof system will be assessed and stabilization, repair or conservation will be recommended and implemented prior to recovering these elements. Engineering review has indicated concern for the attachment of the roof diaphragm, the connections of the bell tower to the roof and the connections of the gift shop roof to the nave.

Long Term. The Church will need a maintenance and preservation plan which establishes the philosophy of preservation to be applied and specifically outlines procedures and materials to be used. Such a maintenance plan will call for major community input and support.

Would you like to become involved? Become a Friend to San Miguel
  • Community members may join in the actual restoration work.
  • We have to match Federal grants of $285,000. Financial contributions are needed!
  • In-kind Donations Needed - meals for workers/volunteers, tools, mud, and more.
Call Cornerstones for more information at 505-982-9521 or email