Arizona is a fairly young state and for that reason, historic architecture both limited and young. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the oldest churches standing in Arizona. Some predate the United States but most were constructed when settlers began moving into Arizona Territory in the 1880s.
1. Mission San José de Tumacácori, Tumacácori
Founded in 1691, this is one of the oldest surviving missions in Arizona. Construction of the church began in 1753 and was eventually abandoned in 1848. These days, you can visit it at the Tumacácori National Monument in Tumacácori, near Tubac.
2. Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson
Often referred to as the White Dove of the Desert, Mission San Xavier del Bac is arguably the most beautiful building in all of Arizona. The mission was founded in 1692 and construction of the current building began in 1783. Tours of the building are free and you will find the interior is just as stunning as the outside.
3. Mission San Cayetano de Calabazas, Tumacácori
Like most of the Spanish missions built in Arizona, this one only lasted a few short years before being destroyed and abandoned by the area’s Indigenous peoples. The mission was founded and built in 1756, serving its community for approximately 20 years before going up in flames. Afterwards, it went through a process of abandonment and restoration before becoming a part of the Tumacácori National Monument.
4. Saint Augustine Cathedral, Tucson
5. Saint Mary’s Basilica, Phoenix
One of the oldest churches in the city and located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, construction on Saint Mary’s Basilica began in 1880 and was initially completed the following year. Within a couple decades, however, repairs and expansion were needed, so the little adobe church was demolished and construction on the current church began in 1903.
You can take a self-guided tour of the basilica after purchasing a tour pamphlet for $2 in the gift shop.
6. Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, Tombstone
Built in 1882, St. Paul’s is known for being the oldest Protestant church in Arizona. Constructed of adobe bricks, it’s a small church with many of the original furnishings still inside and was added to the National Register in 1971.
7. First Methodist Episcopal Church, Williams
Now called the Community United Methodist Church, the church was built n 1891 and looks absolutely charming, especially in winter. Since its construction, a wing and community hall were added to the building for their expanding congregation.
8. Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, Pearce
This small church was built of adobe bricks and dates to the Pearce’s heyday as a booming mining town. Its construction dates vary, with some sources stating it was built in 1893 and others claiming it to be as late as 1917. The church now sits empty and unused, a small testament to the community that once thrived here.
9. First United Methodist Church, Mesa
The first part of this church was built in 1893, a little brick building consisting of one room and a handful of worshipers. That little building was the first permanent church to be constructed in Mesa. Construction on the large church seen today began in 1913 with materials from the original church and sand from the Salt River.
10. Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Rectory, Prescott
This former church now serves as the home for the Prescott Center for the Arts. Construction began in 1891 and it was completed a few years later in 1894.
11. Clear Creek Church, Camp Verde
Construction on this small church began in 1898 and was constructed of limestone from a nearby quarry. It was the only church in the area and served the Methodist community until 1913, when the congregation moved to another church, and later served as a one-room school house and a cannery before being abandoned in 1946. The local historical society eventually restored the building in the 1970s and rents it for weddings.
12. All Saints Church, Oracle
This unique church was built in 1901 and is now known as the Oracle Union Church. The church stands out for its rubble construction, the large, weathered stones offering a centuries old look, perfect for this small town.
Have you seen or visited any of these places? Don’t forget to let us know if we missed any that you think should have been included!
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