San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Blog | 8 comments

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

In the last post we visited El Santuario de Chimayo, which is just north of Santa Fe.  Further north, four miles south of the center of Taos, is another one of the beautiful missions that can be found in this part of New Mexico.  San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos is an impressive blend of native and Spanish styles.  Completed in 1816, it is a large, sculpted Spanish Colonial church with massive adobe buttresses and two front-facing bell towers.  Three white crosses adorn the two towers and above the church doors with a large white cross in the churchyard and one adorning the arched gateway to the grounds.  Four “beehive” shaped buttresses support the back of the church structure (one of these unusual shaped buttresses was the opening image of my post on Santa Fe Style architecture in black and white) and two buttresses in front of each bell tower support the front.

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church remains an important center of community life and the citizens of Ranchos de Taos ensure it stays in good condition. During major restoration in 1967, workers applied a hard plaster to protect the exterior and prevent future damage, and added a new roof. They also replaced the church doors with accurate replicas of the originals, and the vigas (the rafters or roofbeams, usually from a trimmed and peeled tree trunk, whose ends project through to the outside of the adobe walls) and 60 percent of the corbels with historically accurate reproductions. Despite this attempt to protect the church, the hard plaster proved to be damaging. Since this time, citizens of Ranchos de Taos, parish members, and visitors gather for two weeks each June to re-mud the exterior of the adobe church with the traditional mixture of mud and straw.

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Because of its imposing form and sculpted body, the church is a favorite subject for artists.   Georgia O’Keeffe painted a series of perspectives of the church. O’Keeffe once described it as “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards.”  In most works, these artists favored the view of the back of the church, with its smoothly sculpted adobe beehive buttresses.  I thought I would be different and provide views of the lesser seen front of the church for this post.

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

It is said that Ansel Adams gave up his plan of being a concert pianist to dedicate his life to being a photographer because of the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church.  In 1930, Adams and Paul Strand were both staying in Taos with a mutual friend, Mabel Dodge Luhan.  Adams noticed that whenever something interesting seemed to be happening in the sky, Strand would rush down to Rancho de Taos to photograph the church.  It is believed that it was Strand’s images which were the catalyst to Adams changing his career choice.

Click here for more images of some of the historic missions and churches of New Mexico.

8 Comments

  1. Excellent compositions Mark. I like how the blue sky contrasts with the church.
    Len Saltiel recently posted..Yosemite SplendorMy Profile

  2. I agree with Len, these are some really great shots and that sky serves as a wonderful background for the church. Well done!
    Jimi Jones recently posted..Out To LunchMy Profile

  3. You definitely get some amazing blue skies in the Sante Fe area. Great set of photographs!
    James Howe recently posted..Rookery Building Lobby – Chicago, IllinoisMy Profile

  4. What a cool location, nice images!
    Michael Criswell recently posted..Mesa Arch Magic!My Profile

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