Mission Presbyterian, Las Vegas, New Mexico

Las Vegas, New Mexico is a town that boomed with the advent of the Santa Fe Railroad in the mid-19th century. Its history, reflected in its architecture, tells the story of the melding of the Anglo culture with the existing native cultures. Completed in 1873, the Mission Presbyterian is the oldest Presbyterian Mission west of the Mississippi. The unusual adobe building is the only attempt in New Mexico at a classical temple facade. Religious services were held in the church until 1960, when the congregation merged with another Presbyterian congregation in town. Since the early 1970’s, the Mission has housed the Samaritan House, the only homeless shelter in Las Vegas, as well as a used clothing store which helps meet the financial needs of Samaritan House. The Mission was in need of major repair and a large group of concerned local residents, Presbyterian and non-Presbyterian, contacted Cornerstones in the spring of 1998 for assistance in organizing a restoration project. Cornerstones conducted a full assessment of the building and community workdays have been underway ever since.

This dedicated group accomplished a great amount of work in 1999. Through a large fundraising effort, the community raised $5,000 and applied, through Cornerstones, to the McCune Foundation for a matching grant to purchase materials. It was approved, even though the amount was more than four times the usual that the foundation gives. With the money, the community purchased several thousand roof shingles. In May of 1999, Cornerstones sponsored a Lime Plaster workshop at the Mission. More than 80 people from all over the Southwest, and even as far away as Pennsylvania, came to learn about the advantages of lime plaster and get hands-on experience in its application.

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