Friday, April 6, 2012

San Francisco de Asis Church, Ranchos de Taos, Part 3 (front)

This vintage photograph has been reversed, the bell is actually on the other side!
 A tiny village four miles south of Taos on State Highway 68 (between mile markers 41 & 42), Ranchos de Taos is home to the San Francisco de Asis Church (or the Ranchos Church) a National Historic Landmark. The church has been an inspiration for many great artists who’ve left us with a palpable sense of the people places and events of the past and present. Its heavy buttresses have been portrayed in all media since the early 20th Century, most famously by Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and Paul Strand. The ever changing light has made capturing the back of this structure a challenge to artists/photographers for over a century. The Plaza was here before the church was built; in the mid-1700s it was the most populated community in the vicinity. Most of the buildings in the old plaza contain parts of the original structure, some of these buildings are over 300 years old. This historic plaza was built on top of an abandoned Native American Village. The front of the Church faces away from the road revealing it’s famous backside to travelers as they arrive to Taos. This is not meant to confuse visitors it merely faces the original road in to Taos a branch of the Old Santa Fe Trail.
There are a few gravesites in the patio around the front of the Church
 Inside the parish office resides “The Shadow of the Cross” or “the Mystery Painting” by Henry Ault. A small fee is charged and you will also be shown a short video about the Church. These can be viewed Mon.-Fri. 9AM-4PM.
 Each spring the Church is re-plastered with a mixture of mud and straw by the local parishioners.  Once again work will begin this June with locals and visitors joining in for the “enjarre”, or re-mud.
 San Francisco de Asis Church visiting hours 9-4 Mon.-Sat. 575-751-0518      
 Sunday Mass Service 7AM Spanish, 9AM & 11:30AM Weekdays 6:45AM Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri                                                                                        
ca. 1940's with livestock corrals, during WW2 animals were kept in the safety of the Church Plaza
 The next few paragraphs are to put a spotlight onto the shops and businesses in the Church Plaza including our own Two Graces Plaza Gallery, these are the businesses as of April 6, 2012.
St. Francis Church Gift Shop
The Church gift shop carries devotional items, cards, books and local arts & crafts.
58 St. Francis Plaza Mon.-Sat. 10AM-4PM 575-758-2754
Two Graces Plaza Gallery
Taos’ most appealing and exceedingly affordable art gallery. Featuring rotating exhibitions and local contemporary art. Peruse the book collection of Southwestern, Native American, and local area rare and out of print books. Start your collection of Pueblo pottery, Fred Harvey jewelry, vintage kachina & skookum dolls here. The shop also stocks remedios (local healing remedies). A shop full of tons of cool finds.
68 St. Francis Plaza open daily 9:30AM-5:30PM 575-758-4101

a rather awkward view capturing back buttresses and front steeple
 Chimayo Trading del Norte
Offering a variety of Southwestern Arts, from Casas Grandes Matta Ortiz pottery to finely crafted contemporary turquoise jewelry by Gabe Abrums. A family business for over 75 years.
1 St. Francis Plaza open daily 10AM-5PM 575-758-0504
First Light of a brand new day
 Orr’s Trading Post
Featuring Native American related products including beads, bells, shells, feathers, leather, hides, and craft supplies. The Orr family has been in the “Trading Post” business for over 100 years. The proprietor Del Orr is one of the last remaining weavers of the Native American roach headdress. Stop in and see him at work.
2 St. Francis Plaza open daily 10-5 575-779-7283

Polaroid of Vigas
 The Ranchos Plaza Grill
Serves reasonably priced Northern New Mexico and American Cuisine in a charming relaxing setting.
A locals favorite! 8 St. Francis Plaza Lunch & Dinner, Sat. & Sun. Brunch, Closed Monday 575-758-5788
2012 updated Vigas
 RB Ravens Gallery
Specializing in pre-1930’s Navajo Textiles, American Indian art, Hopi Kachina Dolls, Pueblo Pottery, of the finest quality, each with a place in history. In American Indian mythology the raven is a messenger of good tidings. That’s our aim at RB Ravens.
Located across the Highway from the Post Office, 4146 State Highway 68
open Mon.-Fri. 10AM-5PM or by appointment
Even today this Church is an active and vital center for the community of Taos, note the horse & buggy!
And keep in mind that Old Martinez Hall, which has been left standing empty for many years, is now undergoing renovation, with plans to be open soon with a bakery, restaurants, banquet hall, and shops.
 Before the pine trees
 The majestic Sphinx like front
 absolute front
 From across the parking area, Two Graces Plaza Gallery is located in the building to the right
 Priest and parishioner greet each other
at one point in the early 20's the Church fell into disrepair
 colorized linen postcard
 updated vehicle
 The extreme sunset
 Vintage linen postcard
 Vintage linen postcard, same view, different visitors
Young couple ca 1950's

Before he was the old guy he is today, your guide Robert Cafazzo
Once again here are a group of images of the great San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos. This grouping is of the front and without the very large pine trees blocking the view which have grown very, very tall.
I've been gathering these images for the past 25 years, many are vintage postcards, some are from State and National Archives and some are photographs I've taken myself.
If you choose to re-post any of these images please give me credit and a donation to the Church would be an admirable way to pay your respect.
Thank you very much


  1. Robert I am really enjoying your photos and history

  2. My Grandmother was one of the plasterers during the 1920's, 30's and 40's