December 30, 2004
Scottsdale’s Catholic parishioners expect to soon witness the resurrection of their faith’s original home in the city.
Restoration of the Old Adobe Mission Church is set to begin in the coming weeks.
The small Spanish Colonial Revival-style structure in Scottsdale’s Old Town commercial district is the city’s oldest remaining house of worship.
The project will open it to the public — for weddings, baptisms and social events — for the first time in almost 50 years, aside from its use as a rehearsal hall for the Scottsdale Symphony from 1977 until 2003.
Father Tom Hever of Our Lady of Perpetual Help said his parishioners hope to also make the building a sanctuary for peaceful reflection amid the bustle of downtown, and a place that honors the community that built the old church in 1933 as the first Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
The parish’s Old Adobe Mission Church renovation committee is putting out a call for artifacts from the building through 1956, when the increase in the congregation forced a move to larger facilities about a mile away.
Hever said relatives of the early parishioners might have some of the pews that families built for themselves when the church first opened.
"We also want people to tell us their stories (about the old church and its members), so we can put the history together," said committee member Nicholas Rayder.
The restoration project was sparked by the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission’s move to list the church building on the city’s historic register for its significance in helping establish Scottsdale’s identity in the first half of the 20th century. The designation was made official in 2001.
The original construction "was a true community endeavor" by the Mexican immigrants and Yaqui American Indians whose festivals, religious observances and other traditions "tell the story of the social life in early Scottsdale," said city historic preservation officer Debbie Abele.
The historic designation helped the parish get a $97,000 historic preservation grant from the state Heritage Fund to pay about 60 percent of the projected costs of the restoration project’s first phase.
It will focus on stabilization of the structure, involving repair and strengthening of the adobe bricks that make up the church’s exterior, said Valley architect Don Ryden, who is designing the renovation.
Other phases are to include a reception area, restrooms, a kitchenette and a new church garden.
The parish must raise more funds to pay an overall estimated $250,000 cost, Hever said.