Margaret Muñoz-Lucero got a delayed Christmas present Tuesday: Iglesia de San Antonio Catholic Church in Tiffany was one of five places added to the Colorado Most Endangered Places list.
“This has been like a calling for me, to get this church going again,” Muñoz-Lucero said Tuesday in a telephone interview. She was in Denver at a gathering hosted by Colorado Preservation Inc. to announce the 2019 additions to Colorado’s Most Endangered Places.
“I attended as a child. My parents were caretakers,” she said.
The church, built in 1928, is one of the few remaining original buildings built by Hispanic communities in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico who moved north in the early 20th century to create towns on the then-new route of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
Kim Grant, director of Colorado Preservation Inc.’s Endangered Places program, said the church’s exterior is weathered and water is seeping into the original adobes and it has some foundation issues that require the expertise of an engineer and architect.
The interior of the church, however, is in relatively good shape, he said, aided by a series of parishioners dating back to the church’s founding who have served as caretakers.
“The caretakers were able to make limited plaster repairs, but the building has some foundation issues that require the expertise of a structural engineer and additional technical expertise,” Grant said.
By earning a spot on the Most Endangered Places list, Grant said the church gains access to advocacy and publicity to attract preservation funds. It also gains access to technical resources available to Colorado Preservation Inc., to partnership opportunities with nonprofits interested in historic preservation and to fundraising organizations invested in historic preservation.
The help couldn’t have come too soon, Muñoz-Lucero said.
“The condition now, outside, I see it deteriorating more and more, year by year,” she said. “The stucco is cracking, more slates on the bell tower blow away. Inside, the stucco is starting to crack, too.”
Iglesia de San Antonio Catholic Church still hosts one Mass a year, to celebrate the feast day of St. Anthony. Mass this year will be at noon June 9.
Last year, 87 people attended the Mass.
Muñoz-Lucero, who currently serves as a caretaker, said after Mass everyone gathers at her house for a potluck celebration.
Last year, the church celebrated its 90th birthday, and by its 100th birthday, Muñoz-Lucero said she would like to see the church completely restored to its original state.
Once it is restored, she would like the church to serve as an adoration chapel and to host Mass every three months.
“There’s a bunch of beautiful yellow roses near the church that bloom around the time of St. Anthony’s Feast, if the horse doesn’t eat them,” Muñoz-Lucero said. “A neighbor has a horse, Pearl, that likes to visit the church. When we see her, we chase her away, but every now and then we miss her and she slips by.”