San José de Gracia Church

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San Jose de Gracia Church
San José de Gracia Church is located in New Mexico
San José de Gracia Church
San José de Gracia Church is located in the United States
San José de Gracia Church
LocationN side of the Plaza, Las Trampas, New Mexico
Coordinates36°7′53″N 105°45′28″W / 36.13139°N 105.75778°W / 36.13139; -105.75778Coordinates: 36°7′53″N 105°45′28″W / 36.13139°N 105.75778°W / 36.13139; -105.75778
Area0.5 acres (0.20 ha)
Built1760 (1760)
Architectural styleColonial, Spanish Colonial
Part ofLas Trampas Historic District (ID67000007)
NRHP reference No.70000415[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 15, 1970
Designated NHLApril 15, 1970[2]
Designated NHLDCPMay 28, 1967

The San Jose de Gracia Church, also known as Church of Santo Tomas Del Rio de Las Trampas, is a historic church on the main plaza of Las Trampas, New Mexico. Built between 1760 and 1776, it is one of the least-altered examples of a Spanish Colonial Pueblo mission church, with adobe walls rising 34 feet (10 m) in height. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.[2][3]

Description and history[edit]

The village of Las Trampas is located on New Mexico State Road 76, the "high road" between Santa Fe and Taos. Its main plaza is an open dirt expanse on the east side of that road, with the church on the plaza's north side. The church has a cruciform plan, and is built out of adobe finished in mud plaster. Its nave is 100 feet (30 m) long and 52 feet (16 m) wide (as measured on the outside), with transepts and an apse extending the structure to the north, east, and west. The walls vary in thickness from 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m), and rise to a height of 34 feet (10 m). The adobe roof is supported by vigas overlaid by planking, the vigas mounted into specially shaped corbels. An unusual and distinctive feature of this church is a clerestory window above the nave that is oriented to allow sunlight to fall into the apse area. The main entrance is at the southern end of the nave, between a pair of buttresses, which also support a wooden balcony at the gallery level.[3]

The community of Las Trampas was founded in 1751 by twelve Spanish families. Originally sheltered by an adobe wall that encircled the plaza, the community grew to 63 families 1776, when the church was completed. The church escaped significant alteration due to the economic isolation of the community until the 20th century.[3] The roof has been replaced several times, including in 1932 by the Society for the Preservation of New Mexico Mission Churches, led by renowned architect John Gaw Meem.[4] The church ceiling is painted with 18th and 19th century designs, and the interior is decorated with notable artworks of 18th and 19th century santeros. The annual feast day is March 19.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "National Historic Landmarks Survey, New Mexico" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Charles W. Snell (May 1, 1968). "National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings: San Jose de Gracia Church (Church of Santo Tomas Del Rio de Las Trampas)" (pdf). National Park Service. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying two photos, exterior, from 1968 (32 KB)
  4. ^ a b Cash, Marie Romero, Built of earth and song : churches of northern New Mexico, photography by Jack Parsons. Red Crane Books, 1993. ISBN 1-878610-30-9

External links[edit]