Albuquerque and its surrounding areas are full of many historic buildings, but not many are older, (that are still in use), than these historic churches of Albuquerque. Many of them reside near our Albuquerque B&B and are interesting as they mark the center of many of Albuquerque’s very first neighborhoods. All of them are here in the North Valley, because the first settlements were along the flood plain of the Rio Grande. The river was the only source of water.
Albuquerque was formally established in 1706, and we just celebrated our Tricentennial in 2006, but many families established themselves here in the valley before that date. Some families that had settled in were driven out in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, when all the Spanish settlers along with the Roman Catholic priests and friars were driven down to El Paso and beyond by the united and justifiably irritated Pueblo tribes.
While the church was the target, many settlers were killed and others just never returned. However, the pioneer spirit prevailed because the King wanted his settlements, the Viceroy of New Spain ordered it, the native people allowed it, and so the Spanish drifted back into the territory with a whole new attitude in the early 1700’s.
Photographs shown here are all in the earliest neighborhoods of Albuquerque’s North Valley. In the early days of its settlement, Old Town Albuquerque was the center of a simple community of Spanish settlers. It was also a strategic military outpost along the Camino Real, (probably as a result of the Pueblo Revolt). The settlers spead out along the Rio Grande in the North Valley where they raised animals and farmed to support themselves and the growing number of town folk. Each of these communities was named for the first family on site and most all had a church and/or chapel, (capilla). Many of them still exist and all that exist are still in use today.
I have lived in the North Valley for 31 of my 34 years out in the west. Many of the churches pictured here are places I passed by every day going to work or play. Others were a little more hidden, but I think I now have found most of them. They make for great photo ops, and most old churches do, and you may follow the Google Map I have created of Albuquerque’s Historic Churches, (link at end of post beneath photos), to get some photos of your own.
An interesting side note, my daughter is going to nursing school and I help out by taking my grandson to his pre-school on Mondays. The school is located on the campus of Duranes Elementary School in the heart of the old Los Duranes neighborhood. We park right in front of this capilla when I take him into his classroom and the first time I saw it was the first time I took him to this school. I thought – “Wow, there’s another one!” I had passed Mision San Jose too many times to count, but this chapel was hidden.
In her book about the history of our area, Shining river, precious land: An oral history of Albuquerque’s North Valley, Kit Sargeant tells about the other social side of our historic neighborhoods in Albuquerque besides the Churche scene – the Dance Halls, which also served as community centers and venues for wedding receptions. Several of them still exist, be it as private residences, but be assured that I will be returning to these neighborhoods to photograph the dance halls, and will put them in a future post.
View Albuquerque’s Historic North Valley Neighborhoods in a larger map
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