CENTURIES OF HANDS
An Architectural History of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Taos, New Mexico
By Van Dorn Hooker with Corina A. Santistevan
Photographs, Drawings, Bibliography
“Hooker was the University Architect in Albuquerque when he became involved with preservation issues at St. Francis of Assisi in 1966. He and Corina A. Santistevan, archivist for the church, present an in-depth historical view of the church through an examination of its role in the community, its architectural construction, its interior furnishings and the various solutions (and mistakes) undertaken to restore it. An excellent, detailed analysis of the life of a building.” (Books of the Southwest)
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St. Francis of Assisi Church in Taos, New Mexico, is one of the most widely recognized buildings in the United States. It has been photographed by thousands of people who have visited it including professional photographers, and painted by scores of artists in various media. Its image has appeared in books, magazines, newspapers and travel brochures. But the church did not always look like it does today. Since its original construction in the early nineteenth century, it has gone through many periods of remodeling. In the recent past, St. Francis of Assisi Church has been the focus of historic preservation by a devoted congregation and the priests who led them. Their united effort saved the church from serious deterioration and abandonment. An annual program of replastering with mud in addition to repair and repainting are keeping the church in better condition than ever before. The writing of this book was inspired by this effort.
Van Dorn Hooker, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, was the university architect for the University of New Mexico from 1963 until he retired in 1987. Prior to that he was a partner in the architectural firm of McHugh and Hooker, Bradley P. Kidder and Associates, Santa Fe, architects for many churches in New Mexico including Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Fe and St. James Episcopal Church in Taos. He followed the restoration of St. Francis of Assisi Church for many years and his collection of notes and photographs made this book possible.
Corina Santistevan, the archivist and historian for St. Francis of Assisi Church, is a native of Ranchos de Taos. She was a charter member of the Taos County Historical Society and a distinguished educator. Her knowledge of the history of the church and the Taos Valley has been acknowledged by many well known writers and historians she assisted through the years.
NEW MEXICO MAGAZINE said: "Almost anything anybody will want to know about these significant buildings and their communities can be found here or in the many references listed in the bibliographies found with each of the chapters."
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