[Source: Doug Kreutz, Arizona Daily Star 3-28-2010] — A prominent feature of Mission San Xavier del Bac, which has graced the desert southwest of Tucson for two centuries, faces unchecked decay now that critical funding has been cut. Work to repair and restore the mission’s deteriorated east bell tower was supposed to be under way this spring, but not a dab of new mortar has been applied.
A previously approved $150,000 grant from the Arizona Heritage Fund to kick-start the project was abruptly canceled last year. Persistent efforts to get the funding restored have failed, so the bell tower will languish for the foreseeable future — making eventual restoration ever more costly, said Vern Lamplot, executive director of the Patronato San Xavier. The group oversees fundraising and restoration for the mission, which attracts 200,000 visitors annually.
Restoration of the tower was to be the last major step in more than two decades of work that has included repair of walls, renovation of the west tower and meticulous cleaning of religious art inside the mission. [Note: To read the full story, click here.]
[Source: Loni Nannini, Arizona Daily Star] — In Tucson, they are the hostesses with the mostest: The Silver & Turquoise Board of Hostesses throws a party with purpose. Over the past 16 years, the Mission San Xavier del Bac has been the sole beneficiary of more than $325,000 in proceeds from the Board of Hostesses’ annual Silver & Turquoise Ball.
Their commitment to restoration of the mission is just one example of the 50 active members’ dedication to the community, according to Ginny Healy, chairwoman of the upcoming ball and 11-year veteran of the non-profit Board of Hostesses. “The women I have worked with at the Board of Hostesses are some of the most outstanding women in the community. You see their professional accomplishments and contributions through volunteer service everywhere around Tucson,” said Healy, senior director of development for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science at the University of Arizona.
The Board of Hostesses was created 59 years ago to promote, support and encourage the preservation of Tucson’s historical traditions and diverse cultural heritage. The ball originated as a potluck thank-you for volunteers of the now-defunct Tucson Festival Society, which staged events such as Pioneer Days, La Parada de los Niños and the Children’s Writing and Art Festival. The potluck soon moved to the Arizona Inn at the urging of proprietor Isabella Greenway and has remained there since. Healy believes the location, the history and the compelling cause culminate in Tucson’s most enjoyable ball. “It is really just a party to celebrate people who have volunteered in the community and the work they have done. It is for people to sit back and enjoy themselves and has really become one of Tucson’s great traditions,” said Healy, who is producing a documentary on the ball with director and co-producer LuisCarlos Romero Davis.
Healy said support of the mission remains a motivating factor, particularly because $150,000 in state funding for the ongoing $7 million-plus restoration was cut on Feb. 2. The grant had been awarded through Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund, which set aside proceeds from the Arizona Lottery to fund historical restoration projects and trail management. The money was slated for work on the east tower, where continued water damage could eventually threaten the structural integrity and damage interior artwork. “Originally those (Heritage) funds were voter-approved, and I don’t think voters approved what the state is doing with them now. We can’t start work on the tower until we have more funds available,” said Vern Lamplot, executive director of the Patronato San Xavier, a non-profit corporation dedicated to preservation of the mission.
In his appeal for support of the mission, Lamplot emphasized its cultural and historic value as one of the original 10 structures on the National Register of Historic Places and its bankability as a major tourist attraction that hosts more than 250,000 worldwide visitors annually. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Jonathan J. Cooper, Cronkite News Service] — Late last year, crews removed scaffolding that covered the west tower of San Xavier Mission. Preservation experts had spent years removing a concrete coating, replacing disintegrating brick and restoring the original lime mortar cover.
Restoration work was supposed to move this year to the mission’s east tower, where the structure is disintegrating from the inside. But the scaffolding could stay on the ground and the tower could continue to slowly crumble now after lawmakers closing the state’s budget deficit swept millions from a fund that had committed $150,000 in lottery proceeds to the work here. “The whole thing is frustrating because you want to believe the state lives up to its word,” said Vernon Lamplot, executive director of Patronato San Xavier, a nonprofit organization created to restore the 212-year-old mission south of Tucson.
An Arizona icon dubbed “The White Dove of the Desert,” San Xavier stands a vision of contrasts. One tower is gleaming white, while the other has yellowing paint and mold. The exterior is cracked, with stucco falling from the brick walls. The restoration at San Xavier is one of about 120 projects, some already under way, that stand to lose grants from the Heritage Fund, which designates up to $20 million of state lottery revenue annually for parks, trails, historic preservation, and wildlife conservation. Voters created the fund in 1990.
There is some hope for the grants. A bill by Rep. Warde Nichols, R-Chandler, was amended to reallocate money to help prevent some state parks from closing and, among other things, replace the $4.9 million swept from the Heritage Fund. A House committee endorsed the bill, but it would require a three-quarters vote from both chambers to pass. The plan may prove unpopular because it would take the money from the Growing Smarter Fund voters created in 1998 to conserve land.
The dozens of Heritage Fund grants around Arizona are especially important now to stimulate the economy and encourage tourism, said Doris Pulsifer, grants director for Arizona State Parks, which administers much of the money. “To develop these projects provides jobs because someone has to go out there and build them,” she said. “And money is spent on the equipment and the materials.”
Dennis Hoffman, an economics professor at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, said the Heritage Fund grants probably do create some jobs and have a small economic benefit. But he said it’s hard to argue that one state program is more beneficial than another as they all fight for a dwindling number of dollars. “You’ve got a million ducks fighting over two croutons,” Hoffman said. “We need more croutons. There’s just not enough money going around to fund everything that most Arizonans would agree needs to be funded.”
Beth Woodin, president of the Arizona Heritage Alliance, an organization that lobbies the Legislature to continue supporting the Heritage Fund, said the sweep shows a lack of commitment to historic preservation, parks, and wildlife. “It would seem that sane and reasonable and educated people would care about the Heritage Fund,” she said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source:Fernanda Echavarri, Tucson Citizen] – – Restoration of San Xavier Mission’s west tower is finished – just in time for Christmas Eve Mass. After five years of work, the tower has been restored with the integrity of the church protected, said Vern Lamplot, executive director of Patronado San Xavier.
The restoration team removed the earlier coating of cement plaster inch by inch on the west tower’s exterior, repairing the historic brick beneath and refinishing the exterior surface with a traditional lime plaster, Lamplot said.
The west tower’s flawless finish contrasts with the original plaster on the east tower, built more than 200 years ago. The west tower restoration cost $5.5 million, Lamplot said, and the east tower will take at least three years and about $1.5 million to repair. The mission has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar restoration project funded by Patronado San Xavier, a local nonprofit group, that began with the interior preservation in 1989. [Note: to read the full article click here.]