La Lomita Mission
Conservation Study & Restoration

La Lomita (The Little Hill) Mission takes its name from a nearby Hillock, a unique landscape feature in the Rio Grande Valley River delta which separates and unites Texas and Mexico. Largely abandoned, the Mission is one of the few remaining Spanish Colonial building sites on the Texas side of the river, a part of the initial settlement of Oblate priests who served the region by horseback in the 1800’s.

Analysis revealed a simple yet compelling composition of harmonic proportions, which despite its humble scale and rustic finish impart a greater meaning of place and enduring spirituality.

The Chapel was restored and its devotional use and public programming were restored as well. Although an investigation of interior walls indicated a jacal* structure of earlier origin, the Chapel was restored to c. 1900 period. The roof was removed and the walls reinforced with steel structure for bracing. Historic variations in the rafter spacing and purlin sizes were closely followed to maintain architectural character with new structural elements carefully concealed. The existing bell cupola c. 1930s was removed and reconstructed based on historic photographs. A local outcrop provided stone replacement and lime-based mortar, plaster and whitewash. The simple box carpentry pews and altar were repaired, stripped of dark paint and returned to white. Window sashes, wood shutters and doors were restored.

Beyond its continuing role in the religious life of the community, the preservation plan identifies subsequent phases for field archeology and site improvements to more fully present the interpretation of the site, the history of the village and to encourage heritage tourism and public engagement from both sides of the border.

* A thatch-roofed hut made of wattle and daub found in Mexico and the southwest United States.

Project Owner:
City of Mission, Texas

Project Size: 
Not Available

Construction Type: 
Restoration & Renovation

Construction Cost: 
$.12 Million

Completion Date:
January 2006

Firm’s Responsibility: 
Prime Architect

Full service architectural and interior design services.

Project Manager: 
Steven Land Tillotson, FAIA

Project Architect:
Steven Land Tillotson, FAIA

Project Designer:
Steven Land Tillotson, FAIA

MEP Engineer – Halff Associates, Inc.

– Honor Award; Texas Society of Architects, 2010
– Citation Award; San Antonio Chapter of the AIA, 2011

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