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Historic San Pedro chapel spiritual center of El Fuerte neighborhood

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Meandering down the road across from what was once an outpost on the frontier, Fort Lowell on Craycroft Road, you enter a neighborhood of old adobes and other buildings from a time past. Stay on that road heading west and look to your left.

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Native plantings provide a natural beauty that is unique to this part of Arizona. On a sloping hillside, one glimpses a beautiful little chapel well offset from the main road. Now used as a wedding venue, the rest of the neighborhood emanates from this spot.

The area was once known by its Sonoran, Mexican and Baja Californian residents as “El Fuerte”. Mostly farmers and ranchers, these settlers were drawn to the area by the plentiful irrigation water from the Rillito, Pantano and Tanque Verde washes.

The fort had been decommissioned and the buildings falling into ruin, but the resourceful residents came together and kept the neighborhood alive and vibrant. They recycled adobe, reset wood beams in ceilings and made the area their own.

As more people arrived, adobe homes were built along with the chapel. There is even a neighborhood cemetery that is the last resting place of the original inhabitants.

The current chapel was dedicated in 1932. It was built on the same site as the previous 1919 structure dedicated to San Angel de Garda which was destroyed in a tornado in 1929.

Usage of the structure as a sanctuary ended in 1948. It was purchased by the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association in 1993 and restoration efforts began in 2004.

The Chapel is a City of Tucson Historic Landmark and is on the state and federal Registers of Historic Places.

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