Presidio Chapel of San Elizario
Photo by National Park Service
Bulwark of Faith
Established by the Spanish in 1789 as part of a presidio (or military garrison), the current Chapel of San Elceario served soldiers—and their families—assigned to the fort. As such, it wasn’t a mission per se but it is still an interesting building from the period. The fort’s origins, like the El Paso mission churches, date to the late seventeenth century, when the Spanish governor of New Mexico, Don Jironza Petriz de Crúzante, founded the Presidio de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Almost a century later, that fort, originally located south of the Rio Grande was moved north of the river to present-day San Elizario. Flooding by the Rio Grande destroyed the chapel, which was rebuilt twice. The current one-story adobe structure, completed in 1877, is in a traditional Spanish Mission style.
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