Mission Builder and Architect

Map of Kino's Missions - Founding Dates

Map of Kino's Missions - Locations

Best References for Kino as Architect and Mission Builder

Book: "Finding Father Kino: The Discovery of the Remains of Father Euesbio Francisco Kino 1965-1966"
Author: Dr. Jorge Olvera
Publisher: Southwestern Research Center, Tucson, Arizona 1998

Chapter 4: Nuestra Señora del Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera
By Arthur Woodward
Excerpts are set out below on this page.  
From  Book: "The Missions of Northern Sonora: A 1935 Field Documentation"
Editor:Buford Pickens, FAIA 
Publisher: Southwestern Research Center, Tucson, Arizona 1993 

Kino Building Methods
Bernard L. Fontana 

By the end of April of 1688, Kino and the natives of Cosari, Mission Dolores, had built a small temporary church and living quarters for the priest. Before another year was out, a much larger and more permanent church was taking shape, one complete with adobe walls, doors, windows, and bells imported from Mexico.

While we lack details about the actual construction of churches and living quarters in such O''odham settlements as Tubutama, Saric, and Cocóspera, where Kino founded missions in the early 1690s, we do know that he brought with him to the Pimerí­a Alta craftsmen known as guasinques, carpenters who did the wood  work in the missionary''s churches. What the available evidence suggests is that construction took place in two stages, both summarized nicely by archaeologist and architectural historian Jorge Olvera in his report on the 1965-1966 excavations in Magdalena that succeeded in locating Father Kino''s skeletal remains:

"The first was the mud brick masonry stage, with a): the building of the foundation with locally gathered stone materials (river boulders or, if available, volcanic rock ... ), ... and b): the raising of the adobe walls for his buildings, workers previously having gone through the long process of making the adobes, whose clay had to be dug, mixed with water and binding materials, set, removed from the molds, and dried.

The second stage in the building process was the one in which he employed the carpenters who travelled with him. They arrived at mission sites where local people had already made adobes and had raised the walls to a convenient height for roofing. At this point, now under the supervision of Father Kino, the carpenters would start to roof the structure over the nave, sanctuary, sacristy, etc.

They arrived at mission sites where local people had already made adobes and had raised the walls to a convenient height for roofing. At this point, now under the supervision of Father Kino, the carpenters would start to roof the structure over the nave, sanctuary, sacristy, etc." 

Anyone wanting to know more precise details about Kino's building methods needs to consult Olvera's book. 

Dr. Bernard L. Fontana
"Kino The Builder"
SMRC Revista
Fall-Winter 2010

Selected Kino Architectural References
Dr. Olvera's "Finding Father Kino"

Southern Spain's Mudajar Culture and History: Pages 52 - 54
Kino and Mudejar Tradition: Introductory discussion: Pages 64 - 69
Kino and Mudejar Tradition: Kino's Mission at Cocospera; roofing systems; comparable churches Pages 108 - 134
Bell Towers as Defensive Turrets: Pages 135  - 140
Kino as City Planner and Fortification Architect: Pages 169 - 177
Kino's Mission at Remedios: Foundations, Siting and Defensive Turrets. Pages 217 - 223

Kino -  Architect and Builder
Nuestra Señora del Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera
Arthur Woodward 

Mission Nuestra Señora del Santa María de Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera
Mission Cocóspera

Perkin's Notes on Woodward's Chapter 4

In these excerpts from Kino's memoirs, Woodward gives us the key to understanding the Padre's high regard for basic architectural elements and their impact on the natives: he [Kino] speaks like a designer about high and strong walls, good and pleasing arches, and the two chapels which form the transepts, supporting a high cupola [dome] with a slightly lantern above. Among the neighboring Indian tribes the word about such a "heavenly space" at Cocóspera spread to other areas; no wonder the Indians from far and wide (even Yumans) came with gifts to attend the dedication ceremonies!

Buford Pickens, FAIA
Editor's Notes
"The Missions of Northern Sonora: A 1935 Field Documentation" 1993

Woodward's Chapter 4: Nuestra Señora del Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera

The mission site is on the crest of an old river terrace which slopes rather abruptly to the stream bed and at this point broadens out into a side valley; the current now flows against the far eastern side of the valley. Here in the fertile flats modern Mexican ranchers have their fields, and with very little imagination or exaggeration one may easily envision the landscape as it was when the mission was in its prime: with herds of cattle and sheep browsing in the pasture lands; with fields of corn, wheat, melons, squash, etc., growing luxuriantly in the rich loam of the flood plains; with the river marked by heavy verdant growth of cottonwood and willow.

Cocóspera, like the famed Topsy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" - "just grew"! The date of the actual foundation of the church seems a bit hazy? [2] Kino was there in 1689, later in 1691, and probably many other times not mentioned.

In April 1697 Father Ruiz de Contreras became a resident priest. At that time, according to Kino (1919, 1: 166), the mission was equipped "with complete vestments or supplies for saying mass, good beginnings of a church and a house, partly furnished, five-hundred head of cattle, almost as many sheep and goats, two droves of mares, a drove of horses, oxen, crops, etc."

In March 1701 Kino went from Dolores to Cocóspera " ... to cast a glance at my other two pueblos of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and Cocóspera, because they were frontiers to the enemy, and to provide for their defense by means of some towers ... " (Kino 1919, I: 274). |43|

The master director of all these mission outposts was at Cocóspera again in April 1701, on his return south after visiting San Xavier del Bac. A church and house were being built in Cocóspera at this time by Kino's orders, and he paused here two days to supervise and direct the work. (Kino 1919, I: 292-93, n. 404).

During 1703 work on a large church building at Cocóspera was continued "zealously" in February, March, April, and part of May with the expectation of being able to have it finished and dedicated before the end the year. The work was done mainly by Pima Indians imported from the neighborhood of San Xavier del Bae. The essential details of this construction are best told by Kino himself: [3]

In these months and the following, I ordered the necessary wood cut for the pine framework, sills, flooring, ect. I went to the interior and brought more than seven hundred dollars' worth of clothing, tools, and heavy ware and from other places I obtained more than three thousand dollars' worth, which shortly and with ease were paid for with the goods, provisions, and cattle of the three rich districts. I invited some men [Indians] from the frontier for the work on these buildings, and there came far and away more than I had asked for; and very especially, for entire months, the many inhabitants of the great new pueblo of San Francisco Xavier del Bac, which is sixty leagues distant to the north, worked and built on the three pueblos of this place and of my administration.

In this way many adobes were made in the two pueblos of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and Santiago de Cocóspera; and high and strong walls were made for two large and good churches, with [44] their two spacious chapels, which form transepts, with good and pleasing arches. The timbers were brought from the neighboring mountains and pineries, and the two good buildings were roofed, and provided with cupolas, small lanterns, ect. I managed almost all the year to go nearly every week through the three pueblos, looking after both spiritual and temporal things, and the rebuilding of the two above-mentioned new churches (Kino 1919, I: 379).

The laborers on the church at Cocóspera were paid in corn, wheat, cattle, clothing, cloth of various sorts, blankets, ect., "which are the currency that best serves in these new lands for the laborers, master carpenters, constables, military commanders, captains, and fiscals" (Kino 1919, I: 378).

In another place Kino refers to the wood used, saying, "The timbers for the frames and flooring, which are very good and almost all of pine called royal, were cut and brought from the neighboring hills, at a distance of seven or eight leagues" (Kino 1919,2: 80).

A few additional [architectural] data concerning Cocóspera are included in Kino's relation:

Of The Month Of January, 1704,
In Which Occurred The Solemn Dedication
Of Two New And Capacious Churches

The churches of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and Nuestra Señora del Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera, as all who have seen them say, are among the best in all the provinces of Sonora, Sinaloa, Hiaqui and Chinipas. They both have transepts, formed by two good chapels, with their arches. One of the two chapels of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios is dedicated to our father San Ygnacio and the other to the glorious Apostle of the Indies, San Francisco Xavier; and of the two chapels of Cocóspera one is dedicated to Nuestra Señora de Loreto, and the other to San Francisco Xavier. "Each church has on the arches of the two chapels - which form the transept - a high cupola, and each cupola has in the middle and above a slightly lantern." [emphasis within parenthesis added] (Kino 1919, 2: 86). 

The new year of 1704 was ushered in by cold, raw winds and a chilly weather; sickness prevailed. Yet in spite of all this a large concourse of Spanish "gente de razon", visiting priests, and a host of natives from all parts of the Pimería Alta were at Cocóspera on 18, 19, and 20 January to participate in the dedication of the new church. Here were Yuma Indians from the far away Colorado River bearing gifts of the famous blue shells |45| which led Kino to argue for a passage by land to California. [4] Here also were, "people from the nations of the Quiquimas, Cutganes, and Coanopas [Cocopas], ect., nations on the land route to California" (Kino 1919, 2: 7).

The dedication ceremonies "were performed by Father Rector Adamo Gilg, and other fathers, with all the ceremonies and benedictions which our Holy Mother Church commands, according to the holy Roman ritual." The choir from Remedios aided Father Gilg in the singing of the two
principal masses. The dedication sermon was preached in Pima by Gilg (Kino 1919, 2: 86-87).

Such are the actual records by Kino of the building of a church Cocóspera.

In July 1730 a Jesuit priest published an account, "Estado de la Province Sonora" (Documentos 1853-57, 617-37). He mentions the church Cocóspera as being in a ruined state.

On 25 February 1698 the Apaches, Sumas, Janos, and Hojomes attack Cocóspera, "at a time when the pueblo was without men, for they had gone inland to barter maize; and although one of the enemy was left dead, they killed two Indian women, sacked the pueblo, burned it, the church, and also the house of the father, who was defended by the few natives had remained. The enemy carried off some horses and all the small stock and retired to the hills. A few from Cocóspera followed him, but when he saw them coming he ambushed them and killed nine of them" (Kino 1919, I: 176). In this instance, Kino seems a bit inconsistent in his description of the attack. He states that "the pueblo was without men," then mentions the defense of the house of the father by "the few natives who had remained," and finally of the pursuit by a "few from Cocóspera" of whom nine were slain.

Apparently, at that time some sort of a church structure had been built at Cocóspera, However, on the afternoon of 22 April 1700 Kino again visited Cocóspera, "where we were received by one hundred and fifty natives who had just returned to settle this pueblo, and had just rebuilt and roofed a hall and a lodge for the father's house, with orders soon to roof the little church also, for three years before on 25 February 1697 (this should read 1698), the hostile Hojomes and Janos had sacked and burned this pueblo ... " (Kino 1919, I: 232-33; and for Bolton's correction
various dates, ibid., I: 176, n. 211).  ….  |46|

Arthur Woodward
Chapter 4: Nuestra Señora del Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera
"The Missions of Northern Sonora: A 1935 Field Documentation" 1993
Buford Pickens, FAIA, Editor      

Interior of Mission Cocóspera
Kino's Original Walls Are Between Interior and Exterior Walls

Cocóspera Foundation Plan
Dr. William W. Wasley 

Cocóspera Roofing Plan
Architect Robert Vint 
Cocóspera Nave Ceiling and Choir Loft
Dr. Jorge Olvera  

Mission Santa María Magdalena y La Capilla de San Xavier 1711
Kino Collasped at Chapel Dedication and Died at Midnight 
Dr. Jorge Olvera 

Perspectives of La Capilla de San Xavier
Dr. Jorge Olvera 

Mission San Antonio del Oquitoa
Existing Sonoran Mission Most Similar to Kino's Missions 

Comparisons to Existing Churches of New Mexico
San Miguel, Santa Fe, New Mexico (Fig. 25)
Chapel, Chimayo, New Mexico (Fig. 26)
Kino's Santa María de Bugota, Sonora 1709 (Fig. 27)
Dr. Jorge Olvera

Comparison with Kino's San Antonio de Oquitoa, Sonora 1704 

Kino's Town Plan for San Bruno in Baja California
Fortifications To Defend The Settlement From Raids By English and Dutch Pirates
Eusebio Francisco Kino 1684

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