Heritage, Volume 9, Number 4, Fall 1991 Page: 10
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Despite the deterioration and decay, the Mission Socorro remains today a beautiful place of worship. The $4 million Historic Missions Campaign restoration project,
will include stabilization, restoration, building rehabilitation and site development. If funds become available, the first two phases, stablization and restoration, may
be completed by December of 1992.
especially destructive to adobe. The missions
have received loving care during the
years since they were built; however, these
are not wealthy parishes and historic restoration
and stabilization are expensive
undertakings. The Catholic Diocese of El
Paso, under the guidance of Bishop
Raymundo Pefia, has launched a fundraising
drive to provide for immediate stabilization
and restoration, as well as to build an endowment
program for long-term maintenance
needs. The Diocese, as the owner of
all mission property, is taking the lead in
this program; however, all activity is being
coordinated with interested parties or
agencies and with the Heritage Tourism
Project Advisory Board of the City of El
Paso providing a leading role in expediting
cooperation, coordination, and funding
from sources outside the Catholic community.
The purpose of the Historic Missions
Campaign is to raise sufficient financial
resources to bring the El Paso Lower Valley
Missions back to their historic state and
enhance their potential to attract visitors.
In this regard, monies raised will be used to
make the repairs immediately necessary to
halt the deterioration of the historic
buildings. Further efforts will restore these
buildings in accordance with their historic
and cultural tradition, and to the highest
standards of preservation practices.
The history of the missions has always
been punctuated by disaster. A major flood
in 1829 destroyed the first of the Socorro
Missions, which had been established in
1680. It was not completely rebuilt until
the mid-1840s. That same flood destroyed
the church of San Elizario, which had been
established at the Spanish presidio; the
present church was begun in 1877 and
completed 10 years later. A fire in 1935
damaged San Elizario's interior severely
and, once again, it required reconstruction.
It is this structure that we see today in
San Elizario. In Ysleta, a flood in 1740 and
a fire in 1907 each had their turn in destroying
or damaging the mission.
The history of disaster is not the least
of the problems for these structures;
though they have survived considerable
abuse, these adobe buildings cannot tolerate
exposure to weather or inappropriate
restoration treatment. Adobe melts
within a few years if it is left uncovered to
the weather. However, patching with
Portland cement mortar or other corrosive
materials will actually increase the
disintegration of the protective plaster
sheath. These three missions have been
the center of community pride and have
not been neglected; nonetheless, the
major maintenance of the structures has
been beyond the financial reach of the
parishes. The Diocese of El Paso is appealing
to a wider constituency to support
this deserving mission preservation program.
10 HERITAGE * FALL 1991
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 9, Number 4, Fall 1991, periodical, Autumn 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45425/m1/10/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.