Nuestra Senora de la Purification in Doña Ana, NM, located just north of Las Cruces, is a large adobe church built in cruciform plan in 1840. The concrete bell tower and mission façade are thought to have been added in the 1920’s or 30’s and the church was covered in cement plaster at some point during the mid-to-later 20th century.
In early 1990, State Senator Mary Jane Garcia of Doña Ana County contacted the New Mexico Community Foundation (NMCF) requesting assistance. I n March 1990, NMCF employees, Ed Crocker and architect Barbara Zook, under the umbrella of Churches: Symbols of Community (in 1994 this became Cornerstones Community Partnerships) and engineer Ken DeLapp, made a site visit to the church. A resulting report specified the most urgent problems, the first being stabilization of certain areas of the structure. Made possible by a grant from the World Monuments Fund, Ed Crocker, local contractor, Pat Taylor and two volunteers began stabilization efforts in July 1990. Depending on the availability of community volunteers, Pat and Ed continued with structural testing and stabilization efforts throughout 1990 and 1991.
Partnering with the NM Department of Labor Job Training Division, NM State Historic Preservation Office and volunteer help from the community and surrounding area, Cornerstones continued preservation work on the church until its completion in 2000.
Throughout the entire process of restoration, lasting approximately 10 years, as many local area at-risk youth and young adults as possible were employed and mentored by project manager Pat Taylor. Youth training was a critical part of this major restoration effort and continues to be at the heart of every Cornerstones’ project, providing participants with building skills, particularly as they reflect the culture of their community, opportunities for developing responsibility and leadership and acquiring life experiences.