Patronato San Xavier - an organization that has pumped about $10 million into the restoration and preservation of Mission San Xavier del Bac - is a recipient of a Governor's Centennial Award.

The two other local honorees are James Ayres, a retired, nationally known historical archaeologist and an avid preservationist, and the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission.

The recipients were selected by preservationists in Arizona and endorsed by Gov. Jan Brewer to acknowledge "outstanding achievements in the preservation of historic and prehistoric cultural resources during Arizona's first 100 years."

"San Xavier is Arizona's most iconic Spanish-colonial structure. In and of itself, it is unique," said Vern Lamplot, executive director of Patronato San Xavier.

"It is really nice to receive awards like this, because it recognizes the hard work the organization has done with limited funds. Restoration will never end, and it is the board's job to prioritize what we are doing and when it gets done," Lamplot said.

Lamplot also gave credit to Morales Restoration and Builders Inc., which spans five generations of Danny Morales' family who have worked on stabilization and restoration of the 215-year-old mission southwest of Tucson.

Patronato San Xavier is a nonprofit organization that was founded 34 years ago by six Southern Arizona community leaders to raise money to restore, maintain and preserve the mission.

Historical Commission

Terry Majewski, chair of the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, said of that group's centennial honor: "It feels so good that we are being recognized for our work in advising the Tucson mayor and council and Pima County Board of Supervisors on matters of historic importance and preservation issues."

Among its work is helping preserve signs for historic landmarks, and providing seed money to historical organizations for annual celebrations and projects.

It also has worked to help preserve St. Luke's Home in the historic Feldman Neighborhood. St. Luke's was founded in 1917 by the Episcopal Church Mission of Arizona. It originally served as a tuberculosis sanitarium until the mid-1960s, and is now an assisted-living facility for elderly with limited income.

The commission also has let the city and county know the importance of the downtown historic Marist College, which was built in 1915 and has been unoccupied and deteriorating for more than a decade.

James Ayres

Ayres, the historical archaeologist, couldn't be reached for comment about his honor. He worked for the Arizona State Museum and served as a state historic-preservation officer in Phoenix.

Ayres also served as chairman of the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission and has authored numerous archaeological publications.

The recipients will be presented the awards as part of the Arizona Centennial Conference April 19 at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix.

Recipients of the Governor's Centennial Awards

1. National Parks Service

2. James Ayres

3. Patronato San Xavier

4. Leigh Kuwanwisiwma

5. Town of Jerome

6. John D. Driggs

7. Arizona Board of Regents

8. Terry Goddard

9. Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission

10. Elisabeth Ruffner


Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, a 17th-century priest on horseback, founded 21 missions in northern Sonora and Southern Arizona, including Mission San Xavier del Bac.

The beginnings of San Xavier are traced to 1700, when Padre Kino began the foundations of a church that was never built. Work on the current church, built to replace an earlier nearby structure, began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.

Mission San Xavier del Bac was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963 by the National Park Service. Every year, 200,000 people visit it.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at or 573-4104.