Mission to Arizona, 1916-1940: Father Augustine Schwarz, O.F.M.


Mission to Pimería: St. Johns Mission - The Mission Building


photograph
LAB FILM S104:67 St. John's Mission, 2002


photograph
LAB MSS-153/10:67 Nativity Scene

Father Justin Deutsch, O.F.M., who arrived at St. John’s in 1901, supervised construction of the present St. John’s Mission, which used some 30,000 adobe bricks with work directed by elders Augustine Vavagex and Chief Antone Naname, both experienced in adobe construction. The church was dedicated on September 29, 1903, and thrived until 1920, when candles in the Christmas Crib almost destroyed the church, leaving only the thick adobe walls. It was soon rebuilt, then in the 1980s underwent subsequent renovation and stabilization.


Deutsch also founded St. John’s Boarding School and was responsible for most of the building activity on the Mission Grounds. The Estrella Mountains to the southwest, form a backdrop for the mission buildings shown here. The 3-story buildings would have had dormitories on the upper floors, classrooms on the second, and workrooms and washrooms on the lower level. In a 1915 interview, Chief Antonio Naname reported that he was also building a 2-story girls’ dining room and dormitory and that during the past 7 years, he had built a laundry, rectory, and one wing of the boys’ dormitory, an engine house, an infirmary, and more. These buildings have long since been torn down.


photograph
LAB MSS-153/9:42