Volunteers carried on a 45-some-odd-year-old tradition Saturday, mudding walls and generally cleaning up on the grounds of the Historical Old San Isidro Church.
Corrales Historical Society President John McCandless said at the peak of busyness, about 25 people, from kids to “old-timers,” showed up from Corrales, Rio Rancho and Albuquerque to help.
“It’s almost symbolic,” he said of the work.
He feels it maintains the memories of earlier days.
A professional must handle the external adobe plaster of the church because of a federal grant, as he understands it. However, volunteers can apply the mud to the church annex and the wall in the courtyard.
The mudding day, named “Mud, Sweat and Cheers” this year, also includes other jobs, such as weeding the grounds and repainting window frames.
Corrales couple Maryann Wasiolek and Jon Sandor donated their time Saturday. Scraping peeling paint from window frames, Wasiolek said they live in and like the community, so they try to give back.
The church was built in 1868 to replace an older chapel washed away in a flood, McCandless said. One or two of the neighboring property owners donated land for the replacement, and builders reused the largest timbers from the destroyed church.
In 1930, McCandless said, the building was upgraded from a flat roof to a pitched roof and from dirt floors to wooden. In the early 1960s, the Catholic diocese deconsecrated it and built a new chapel, still in use today, on Corrales Road.
Then in 1973, McCandless continued, a couple bought the neighboring historical home and wanted the church as well. The diocese didn’t want the building owned by an individual, so Corrales Historical Society formed to raise money for a down payment and took out a loan to buy the church.
Around that time, volunteers decided to strip off the decaying stucco and replace it with real adobe mud. That move necessitated the yearly mudding, because rain and snow wear down adobe, McCandless said.
Eventually, the Village of Corrales paid off the balance of the loan and took ownership of the old church. The historical society is still responsible for maintenance and uses the building for events and archive storage.
McCandless said volunteers have done almost all the rehabilitation work on the church.