San Juan Bautista
see information below the photos
San Juan Bautista Parish/Mission
San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist) was founded and built by parishioners in Lincoln. The church was dedicated on June 24, the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, of 1887. The property, originally the Wilson Saloon, was purchased in 1884 by Fr. John Marie Garnier and was deeded to the Archdioceses of Santa Fé in 1885, when construction began. The original building served as a chapel and as Fr. Garnier’s residence until the new church was built.
The church, built of locally-made adobes and vigas cut in the nearby Capitan Mountains, was the largest in Lincoln County when it was built. The town of Lincoln, and the parish, declined after the county seat was moved to Carrizozo in 1913. The church was downgraded to a mission of Santa Rita Parish in Carrizozo, and by the 1960's was in a serious state of disrepair.
Sometime between 1961 and 1973 the building was sold to the State of New Mexico. Restoration work began in 1981 and has apparently continued sporadically since then. The most recent work, to restore the windows, was completed in 2015.
Lincoln, now a nationally and state designated historic district, is famous as the site of the Lincoln County War of 1878, which included Billy the Kid among its combatants. The town now has numerous historic buildings and sites as well as a museum and shops and restaurants.
Location: in Lincoln, New Mexico, on US Hwy 380 about 60 miles west of Roswell.
resources/ more information (see resources page for complete citations):
Friends of Historic Lincoln “San Juan Mission”
archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces
Deborah Herrera-Ortega and Donna Vargas: Diocese of Las Cruces
Ceci Grant: Archdiocese of Santa Fé