Just at the start of the High Road to Taos (driving from Albuquerque) is El Sagrado Carazon, a New Mexico Catholic church founded as a mission in the early 17th-century. The church was initially destroyed during a revolt in 1680 but has been rebuilt (and destroyed) multiple times. It was destroyed by fire in the early 1900s, but was rebuilt in 1910 and then once more in 1947 in an adobe style with twin buttresses.
Mission San Xavier del Bac is a National Historic Landmark located a few miles south of Tucson, Arizona. Although the mission was founded in 1692, the original church was destroyed by Apache Indians in about 1770. The one above, completed in 1797, is considered one of the best examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the U.S. I visited early one morning and was adopted by a pair of local dogs as I walked up to the top of Grotto Hill which overlooks the church and the O’odham Nation Indian Reservation. Because of its long history, it’s been through both stages of neglect and restoration. Much of the restoration work was performed in the late 20th century after it was included on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is low-fire clay brick, stone and lime mortar. The interior is intricate, with fine wood work and baroque decorations throughout the chapel and altar areas. A few photos from the visit are below along with a pair from 1870 found in the Library of Congress collection.
Chinle, Arizona is a small town in Navajo Nation not far from Canyon de Chelly and includes Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. Franciscan priests established the first church here in 1905. I don’t think this church building above is very old, but from reading online it has a tabernacle modeled after a Navajo summer home and features a six foot hole in the center of the interior floor to expose the sacred earth.
Silverton, Colorado is an old mining town that now focuses on tourism. It’s one of the highest situated towns in the U.S and was established in 1874. There are a couple of old churches including First Congregational, established in 1878. The building was dedicated in 1881 and then added the steeple in 1892. While I was making this photo one morning, one of the locals told me that Ansel Adams shot this church once.
The first Catholic services in town were held in the First Congregational Church, but by 1903, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church had their own building.
The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord Chapel is in the village of Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. In the 1800s Russian settlers established several villages along the Cook Inlet and many remained here even after Alaska was sold to the United States. There was a church in Ninilchik as early as 1846 when the village was founded and later this church above replaced it in 1901. The exterior features onion domes and orthodox styled crosses. It’s included on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you’re able to visit the remote California state park of Bodie, one of the first buildings you’ll see in this ghost town is the Methodist Church. The structure was completed in 1882 and was one of two churches in the town. Supposedly there were approximately 65 saloons among them too. Bodie had effectively emptied of people by the early 1930s. It was abandoned for a couple of decades before the state took it over and created a park in 1962. There was some vandalism of the church during those deserted years, but generally it’s well protected today.
Green River Presbyterian Church is a late Victorian Gothic style church built in 1907. It was the first church built in the town of Green River, Utah. Because of the predominately Mormon population, community churches were common for the non-Mormon populations in the state during the late 19th century. This church had 29 original members in the congregation representing eight different denominations. Relatively minor changes have been made, but the building has much of its original design. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
During a trip to the Palouse region in eastern Washington, I passed through several small “Americana” towns, including Rosalia, Washington. I spotted this church building and got as close as was able, but it’s now privately owned. I haven’t been able to find anything on its history or age so far.