Speculative Location of Original Tello Designed Church at Espada

In his book "Of Various Magnificence" Ivey suggests that Tello used the same basic architectural blueprint for all four mission churches he was commissioned to build in 1740. The design used was common to other churches built in Mexico at the time and there were probably no detailed plans written down.

I acquired a copy of the HABS (Historic American Building Survey) blueprint of the Alamo (Valero) church, and tested to see how that blueprint might have fit at Espada. Here are several things I found:

1) The space allotted for the sacristy (distance between the transept and the bell tower in the Alamo footprint) was 38', the same size as was reported in 1745 of the original Espada sacristy/church

2) The current low walls that surround the area adjacent to the current church referred to as the "cemetery" by Harvey Smith Sr. and several subsequent commissioned archaeology reports, are very close to where the walls of the Tello church would be if it had been similar to the Alamo.

Workmen in the early 1930's working on those same walls. Above doorway has been replaced by a large buttress. 

HABS Photos  ca. 1936

4) The above mentioned wall foundation is parallel to the front facade but not perfectly perpendicular to the transept wall (which is not perfectly perpendicular to the front facade),  which you would expect since the facade is the only original part of the current building.

5) The small wall that would have been the north wall of the nave (see image above) is not perpendicular to the front facade. This bothered me until I realized that the later workmen were working on a 4' wide foundation which gave them plenty of room to wander.

The circumstantial evidence is pretty compelling, but the only way to know is through archaeological exploration. 

Photo ca. 1877 by Latourette showing facade of Espada prior to church being redone by Father Bouchu

3) The wall coming off the north transept of the current church has a 6' gap which appears to be the signature width of a Tello designed entryway.

In this picture, supposedly taken by Father Bouchu in the late 1890's, shows workmen sitting on a linear pile of rocks that are in the area of the current day short wall. Notice doorway in the side wall.

Due to poor quality of old print, I used a pencil to augment the definition. Nothing was changed.

     Alamo floor plan with sacristy on the left.                                         Espada floor plan with sacristy on the right.

Choir loft that was removed in the early 1900's. Though put in by Father Bouchu during reconstruction, it would likely be the same height as the original one that dictated the height of the current door.

The nave of the proposed Tello/Espada church is about 8 feet shorter than at the Alamo. That brings up the question of the planned location, or even existence, of the bell towers.