San Jeronimo Chapel, Taos, New Mexico
San Geronimo Chapel Taos


Date: 1850
Architect: Unknown

Relations between the Spanish and the people of Taos, New Mexico's northernmost pueblo, were contentious throughout the 17th century, a fact reflected in the precarious existence of the mission churches there. The first two churches were destroyed; a third was damaged in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt and ended up being used as a stable.

The next incarnation lasted until 1847 and the Mexican-American War. Under attack from the U.S. Army, Indian and Mexican forces took shelter inside the church, only to be besieged by two days of cannon fire. The ruins of that church loom hauntingly behind a cemetery as you enter the pueblo.

San Jeronimo was built in a more prominent location on the pueblo: the west side of the plaza, between the two dwelling houses. The original structure was small—on the scale of a shed or garage—with a bell hanging from an opening in the pediment, much like the old church at nearby Picuris Pueblo. A bizarre, ungainly turret appeared briefly in the early 1900s, before giving way to the whitewashed, stepped pediment we see today. The square bell towers and balcony came along in the early 1960s, almost overwhelming the original structure.

Today's San Jeronimo is a kind of narrow-shouldered hybrid of the two main mission church styles of New Mexico: the planar facade visible at Laguna Pueblo and the twin-towered style seen at Rancho de Taos and Las Trampas.