San Jose Road, La Mesa, New Mexico

Here's the story of a church that didn't start off as a church and now isn't a church again. This cute adobe house/church was built in 1870 in La Mesa, New Mexico, about 17 years after the area became part of the United States.

Looking around at its setting with the arched brick gate and courtyard, it's hard to believe this one room structure wasn't always a church.

Its church potential was apparent in 1905 to one Father Lewis, who promptly installed stained glass windows from France and really brightened up the place.

With its soaring white birch (imported from Philadelphia) ceiling and loft, its pretty easy to imagine what the church interior looked like 100 years ago.

Eventually the church was decommissioned, which doesn't really surprise me -- more about that in a minute -- and the structure became a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home. 

It might just be because the building is cute, but I'm envisioning the main room in dollhouse scale again

That makes me want to play with it and turn the space from this:

Into this:

{living, kitchen, dining, a-frame sources}

Like Father Lewis, I want to brighten up the space. I drew color inspiration from his stained glass windows.

As for the loft bedroom upstairs...

I came across a photo that could serve as the "spruced up for Instagram" version of it:

A bedroom and bathroom addition in the back brings the house to 2,438 square feet.

It also brings in more of a New Mexico style flare with curved shower walls and saltillo tile floor.

Now, as to why it might have been decommissioned as a church: the 1868 San Jose Catholic Church on Josephine St. is literally one minute away.

(It's on the National Register of Historic Places.) So why did Father Lewis decide they needed another church right down the street? As far as I can guess, it was due to cultus disaparitas, or a disparity of worship. There were religious and cultural differences among the leaders of the La Mesa pueblo at that time.

In this case I think dispute was a good thing, because it certainly made the little house/church more interesting as a result.

La Mesa is 35 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas and  5 hours south of Las Cruces, New Mexico. It's in the Mesilla Valley, the flood plain of the Rio Grande, home of spring floods and heavy summer rainstorms. All that irrigation makes it a good home for chile fields and pecan groves. In fact, there's a pecan orchard right across the street from the house:

{Google maps}

The valley is surrounded by several mountain ranges...

...and apparently some pesky mosquitos. This one is named Keeko:

I guess when it comes to owning a little piece of history, pretty comes with a bit of a price.

The Old House Dreams listing is here.

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