History of the Loretto Academy

The Restoration of St. Genevieve's

exterior of St. Genevieve's Church, circa 1890s
The exterior of St. Genevieve's Church, circa 1890s.

The church of St. Genevieve was originally built in 1859. When Mother Praxedes arrived, it was an adobe building of dilapidated condition. In 1886, she decided to do something about the church, and with the aid of local citizens, convinced the pastor to erect a new church. An initial $3000 was raised through a subscription list. When funds became low, Mother Praxedes organized fairs or bazaars for additional money. By the end of the year, an imposing French-style brick cathedral with forty-four foot high twin towers had replaced the old adobe building.

1907 interior of St. Genevieve's
The Interior of St. Genevieve's, prior to 1907

Although the next several years brought many more improvements to St. Genevieve's, the church eventually began to deteriorate to the point where preservation and restoration seemed impractical. By the 1950s portions of the building were condemned by the state of New Mexico for unsafe conditions. For these reasons , and despite public outcry, St. Genevieve's was demolished. The site where the church once stood became a parking lot and later had a four story building constructed on it. Although the demolition of St. Genevieve's was not part of the urban renewal program, to many Las Crucens they are inseparably related. Today an iron statue stands in the downtown mall as a tribute to St. Genevieve's.

Information based on the thesis The Sisters of Loretto in Las Cruces: The Education and "Americanization" of a Frontier Community, 1870-1943 by Wendy C. Simpson.