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Recent NMSU grad places historic church on national register

Terry Moody, who received her master's degree in anthropology from New Mexico State University in May, recently placed the Phillips Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on the National Register of Historic Places.

rch, which was built in 1911, was recognized for its significant contribution to the evolving history of African-Americans in Las Cruces. The National Register, a division of the National Park Service, is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.

The church was built by African-American members of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America and served as a social center for the African-American community. Phillips Chapel was named for the Right Rev. Charles H. Phillips, the first presiding bishop of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America.

The single-room chapel, which can seat up to 50 people, also served as a classroom for 10 years when Las Cruces schools were segregated. The church currently serves fewer than 10 people.

Moody, who now lives and works in Colorado, researched and prepared the nomination during her graduate studies at New Mexico State. It was part of a historic-preservation course taught by Marsha Weisiger, an assistant history professor, in the Public History program. The nomination was approved by the Cultural Properties Review Committee in April.

Moody received the Mike Watts Outstanding Leadership Graduate Fellowship and donated funds from the award to help paint the church. She also received a grant from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities to prepare an exhibition on the history of Las Cruces' African-American community, which is on display at the Court Youth Center in Las Cruces and will be exhibited at the University Museum in January 2004.