San José Church, located in Upper Rociada, New Mexico, represents a story of community determination and commitment. The twenty or so families that reside in this area are the ancestors of Hispanic timber and ranching settlers who migrated to Upper Rociada in the late 19th century. The community used the church as a gathering place and spiritual center, which is how it is still used. The ancestors of today’s residents are buried beneath and in front of the church, cementing its cultural importance to the community.
In 1986 San Jose was closed after it was determined that the structure was unsafe.
However, it was crucial to the community to save their church and in 1987 community members began stabilization and restoration efforts. They sought the assistance of Cornerstones, then “Churches: Symbols of Community” under the umbrella of the New Mexico Community Foundation (NMCF). Technical visits by Cornerstones determined that the main problems were caused by moisture which had wicked into the adobes, weakening the load-bearing capacity of the walls. The west wall showed evidence of imminent collapse. Other problems included erosion of the structure’s foundation as well as an unstable roof.
Workdays were organized and from 1987 through 1994 community members and volunteers from outside the community, with technical help from Cornerstones, took down and rebuilt the weakened west wall, repaired the interior and exterior of the remaining walls, replaced or repaired damaged vigas, replaced damaged roof shingles, re-plastered both interior and exterior wall and replaced the electrical system.
San Jose was rededicated on July 5, 1995.