Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Community-built Mission

We had just planned to hop on the free trolley and take a ride around Old Town Scottsdale, but then we saw the gleaming white exterior of the Old Adobe Mission.

From 1931 to 1933, Mexican families volunteered to build Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, as the mission was originally called.

"Architect Robert T. Evans, known throughout the Southwest for his bell towers and adobe structures, designed the mission in understated Spanish Colonial Revival style."

"Jesus Corral, a leader in the Mexican community, took charge of the construction, overseeing the making of 14,000 adobe bricks" (mission informational brochure).

The mission's stained glass windows appeared unlike the traditional stained glass windows. As I was about to photograph one of them, a docent informed me that the one I had targeted was not one of the original ones.

So, the one shown here (left) is one of the original windows.

All 14 of the original windows (three of which are shown here) were made by Barnebe Herrera, a tinsmith.

The window on the left (above) bears his name.

The card on the wall reads:
"Our Lady of Guadalupe Mosaic
Designed, Crafted, and Donated
by Clare Boothe Luce
Circa 1958"

According to one of the docents, the name of the artist of this work was unknown.

When the mission was furnished, each family handcrafted and maintained their own pew. Only one of the original pews is on display in the mission.

When the parishioners moved to a larger church, the little church became a center for Religious Education classes, for the Knights of Columbus and teen meetings, and, finally, as a rehearsal hall for the Scottsdale Symphony. Pews from another church have replaced the original ones.

Marianne Cox found the bottom half of the marbled altar withered and donated her time and materials to restore the mission’s altar.

With a bit of painstaking effort to match the light vein pattern that runs through the piece, she got it done. “You can’t tell which is the original and which is mine.”

Restoration of the mission began in 2000 and is nearly complete.

As I was photographing the window (on the left, below) in the choir loft, one of the docents approached me with a question.

"What does that window design look like to you?"

"An owl," was my answer.

"That's one answer we've heard. We have wondered if the window was in fact installed upside down (view on the right), which leads us to think it might have been a vase with flowers."

What do you think?

1 comment:

Reina said...

Wow, those windows are amazing! I can see them as quilt designs too, or other stitchery products...