Fifteen years later, the project has been completed. A large crowd gathered at the Old Town Mission on Monday afternoon to celebrate the completed renovation of the historic building now used by the Rio Gallinas School.
Constructed in the 1870s, the landmark has wood floors and its walls were constructed with roughly 15,000 adobe bricks. The mission got a complete renovation with most of the work done by volunteers, along with the help of United World College-USA students.
“It has been wonderful to see the physical changes in this place,” said Sharon Seto, director of community engagement at United World College-USA. “There is a real vibrancy, warmth and history to this building.”
She said the UWC-USA students volunteered their time almost every other weekend as part of the college’s community service program. They spent hundreds of hours helping to make the renovation project a success.
The local Presbyterian Church and the college signed an agreement in May 2011 to help with the renovation.
“It was a great opportunity for the students,” Seto said. “They learned basic skills such as hammering, plastering, but more so they learned about the history of northern New Mexico.”
Susan Swan of the local Presbyterian Church spearheaded the facility’s 15-year renovation.
The church owns the facility, as it once served as a Presbyterian Church and a school for numerous years. The mission is the oldest standing Presbyterian Church in the southwest.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. James “Randy” Campbell, called the community center “a gift to the community. I see it as a missionary of the church any time we can be involved to have a place for children to dance and sing that fulfills our mission.”
Gabino Rendon was among those who spent years helping with the renovation. His father served as a Presbyterian minister at the Old Town Mission for many years. The younger Rendon initiated the renovation and the work began a decade and a half ago.
“The renovation was a world-wide project since we had students from United World College,” he said.
Anyone interested in utilizing the restored building may contact the local Presbyterian Church at 425-7763.