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$250,000 effort under way to restore Ruidosa missionArchitect says stabilization work means church will be there another 100 yearsBY GEOFF FOLSOMOdessa AmericanRUIDOSA, TEXAS It’s taken three years, but progress is being made in the restoration of a mission that was once in danger of collapse.The first phase of the stabilization of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Church in Ruidosa, Texas, has been completed. The work included replacing adobe in the foundation of the building, plastering interior walls, grading for drainage and replacing the roof of the mission, which was built around 1914.The restoration of the Presidio County church could be finished by April, Lyman Labry, architect with the Texas Historical Commission, said.“The arches will be preserved,” he said. “The walls will be preserved. It will be there another 100 years.”The first part of the project was funded by a $30,000 matching grant from the historical commission in 2004, as well as three $15,000 grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, $6,000 from the Presidio County Historical Commission and money from private donors.More funds could be coming in during the next two months, Labry said. The entire project is expected to cost around $250,000.The second phase includes rebuilding the church’s nave wall. If more money were raised, Labry would like to see repairs made to the church’s lone remaining tower, as well as interpretive signs placed around the mission, he said.“Ideally, I’d like to put the front back on the church,” he said.Labry has worked on projects using adobe in the past, including the much larger Socorro Mission near El Paso and the Marfa Public Library.“There is quite a bit of adobe in this area we’ve assisted on,” Labry said.Protecting adobe with a roof that drains water away from the building is important in preservation, Labry said. Using proper materials, not concrete or concrete stucco, is also necessary.Concrete can be hollowed out by water, a problem that may not be found until erosion has occurred, Labry said.“The tendency is to put a concrete collar around it,” he said. “That just kind of exacerbates the situation and makes it worse.”Marge Hughes of the Ruidosa Mission Project said it’s important to preserve the church.“It was being lost,” she said. “It was a very important part of the county.“I don’t believe it will be habitable or usable,” she said, “but at least it will be there for people to look at.”
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