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La Lomita Chapel and Novitiate

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1899 chapel; 2008 rehabilitation, Kell Muñoz Architects; 1912 novitiate, Frederick B. Gaenslen. FM 1016, 5 miles south of Mission
  • (Photograph by Gerald Moorhead)

The site encompasses the remaining 122 acres of ranchlands willed to the Oblate Order of Mary Immaculate in the 1860s, which they used as a way station to minister to the ranches of Hidalgo County. Named La Lomita, or small hill, for one of the highest points in the area, the property includes a chapel and a novitiate.

The small, 12 × 25–foot, austere chapel is tied to traditional border construction techniques with its gabled ends, high parapets, and whitewashed rubble masonry exterior walls that indicate an earlier construction date. Exposed rafters, brick floors, and original furnishings mark its rustic interior. Since the oblates moved their ministry to the city of Mission in 1908, the chapel has served mainly as a place of pilgrimage.

Virtually destroyed by fire in 2009, the ruins of the buff brick St. Peter's Novitiate sit on the nearby hilltop. An open-air arcade enveloped its first story, while its extant main facade features a Mission Revival arch set between two pyramidal-roofed towers, giving it the appearance of a church. Of note was the five-story water tower at its rear, with striking full-height diagonal buttressing capped by a gabled roof that made it appear more a lookout than a functional component of the building. The novitiate ruins are slated for preservation.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "La Lomita Chapel and Novitiate", [Mission, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 292-293.

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