Restoration Update

Six Tucson community leaders started nonprofit Patronato San Xavier in 1978 with the sole purpose to preserve and restore Mission San Xavier Del Bac. So much has been accomplished and our work continues because so many of you now share their vision for this beautiful, historic church; one of the most recognized buildings in Arizona.

Conserving the Altar Railings

After two seasons of work, the cleaning and restoration of the Retablo Mayor (the high altar) is complete and our interior conservation team has turned its attention to the ornate balustrades that surround the main altar. This will be the first restoration of these wooden railings that have stood in place for more than 200 years. Part of original elements of the church, the balustrades still show signs of the painted decoration that once adorned them. Over the centuries, the wood has been seriously damaged by termites, so the team will carefully clean and inject epoxy to build up missing elements and stabilize the wood. They also will make saw cuts near the base and treat the soil underneath to prevent further infestation and create a barrier to prevent moisture being drawn up into the wood and causing more damage.

Top photo: Conservator Tim Lewis and Conservator-in-training Susie Moreno working on the cleaning of the railing, removing varnish and over paintings. 

Underneath the East Tower

Danny Morales and his crew introduced fiberglass reinforcement to mitigate against earthquake damage as they secured the foundations to bedrock beneath the East Tower. We’re pleased to report that after months of work, this foundational work on the East Tower is complete. Because the Museum is such an important part of the visitor experience, our contractors are now working on the three rooms inside the East Tower that comprise the Museum. Once complete, we can reopen the Museum to the public well before the completion of the entire East Tower repair and renovation.

Bottom photo: The intricate patterns of adobe in the museum rooms, once repointed, will be covered with lime wash.

Read more about the Patronato’s restoration and preservation work at the Mission.