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NMSU educators give talk, tour on progress of chapel restoration efforts

A public talk is scheduled for Thursday, March 11, at the University Museum for updates on the renovation of Phillips Chapel, the historic structure a Doņa Ana Community College class is using as a hands-on re-stabilization project.

NMSU grad student Terry Moody, left, and Clarence Fielder pose in front of Phillips Chapel in Las Cruces. A tour of the historic chapel will be given on Saturday, March 13 to show the public the progress DACC students have made on restoration efforts this semester. (Photo by Darren Phillips)

Project organizers Beth O'Leary, NMSU anthropology professor, and Clarence Fielder, NMSU history professor, will speak on Thursday on the progress of the students' work.

"I believe it is significant that students in our community will be working to preserve our church," Fielder said, "which at one time was one of the only schools available for African-American children in Las Cruces."

Anthropology Graduate Student Organization, the Brown Bags, a medium in which both students and faculty are able to present research, upcoming books and other projects, will facilitate the talk with O'Leary and Fielder.

"If These Adobe Walls Could Speak: The Restoration of Phillips CME Chapel, an Historic African-American Church in Las Cruces" will take place at noon at the University Museum in Kent Hall.

Also, a tour of the chapel, built in 1908, is scheduled for Saturday, March 13 and will serve as an opportunity for the public to come see the completed work as well as what still needs to be done.

Fielder and DACC Building Construction Technology professor Ronald Taylor, who helped design the plan for stabilizing the chapel, will speak during the tour on how Taylor and his students are rehabilitating the chapel using preservation standards. More than 25 students are involved with the project, as well as teachers and community members who have made donations.

The Branigan Cultural Center and Las Esperanzas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Mesquite Street Original Townsite Historic District, will sponsor the tour. It starts at Phillips Chapel, 638 Tornillo St. at the corner of Tornillo Street and Lucero Avenue, and will wind through the historic district. The tour will begin at 10 a.m.

For more information on the talk or the tour, contact Beth O'Leary at (575) 646-2560.