Standing on the corner of Brown Avenue and First Street in Old Town is the Old Adobe Mission, known to some as Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church. This 85-year-old building is the first Catholic Parish established in Scottsdale as well as the oldest standing church building in the area.
Designed by Robert T. Evans and constructed in 1933, the mission has come a long way from its dirt floors and adobe bricks, with its handmade pews and stained-glass windows. In September 2018, it reached another milestone when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In February 2018, volunteers from the mission sat down and started the arduous process of applying to the National Register. Thirty pages and seven months later, their hard work paid off and the mission earned the coveted distinction.
“It was a long road involving incredible amount of research and verification. We are over the top proud of this accomplishment,” said Gloria Argueso, who works with the Executive Board of the mission.
On January 18, a dedication ceremony took place where a plaque was unveiled, and family and friends celebrated the latest accomplishment. The pews were abuzz with conversation as everyone took their seats. Founding families were in attendance as well as members of the city council and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.
Rad Masinelli, president of the board, kicked off the presentation and introduced the evening’s speakers. First up was Pastor Greg Schlarb, who spoke about what the accolade means to the mission. Next, Mayor Lane spoke about the tremendous history of the mission and about how without the past, you can’t build a future.
“I feel special just being here, as should all of you. The mission has brought people together and we need to congratulate the community for this accomplishment,” Lane said.
The next speaker was Steve Venker, who works with the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Program. Venker talked about the history of the mission and how it was built for the community, by the community. With the help of the 150 people who built the church in 1933, Venker said the mission “represents pride.”
“When the mission called me, they asked me to speak about my passion. They never ask me that,” joked Don Ryden of Ryden Architects, who spoke about the state’s views on the mission’s preservation.
“When I think of the mission, I think of the concept of Logos, which can be translated as word or ratio. It is also the principle of divine proportion. If you take that, plus harmony and beauty, you’ll find the spirit of place, and that’s what the Mission is a part of; that’s what hooks it all together within our community,” Ryden said.
The plaque was revealed and applause filled the tiny church. Tears were shed and hands were shaken with an overall mood of happiness. That little white building on the corner of First Avenue has stood the test of time and will continue to stand as one of Scottsdale’s historic wonders.