2) Photo of Reverend Henry Granjon inside Our Lady of Mount Carmel, November 2010 (Jennifer Sabula)
Rural Road between Tempe and Apache, Tempe
In the late 1800’s Arizona provided a passageway for ancient Aztecs to trade with other tribes that were located in northern Arizona. When many of the Mexican people migrated up north from Mexico some of their first stops were Tucson and Tempe for them to settle. Many of the first people in Tempe called themselves Tempenenos, and these individuals all came to Tempe with the same idea in mind. They migrated up to Tempe for survival, growth, and improvement. Our Lady of Mount Carmel church has been in Tempe AZ since 1881 and was one of the first buildings to be built in Tempe. Its name in Spanish is Nuestra Senora del Carmen. Mount Carmel’s original location was where Arizona State’s football stadium is currently located today and this was known as Tempe Butte. Our Lady of Mount Carmel was the first Catholic Church to be built in Tempe. In 1897 Our Lady of Mount Carmel was announced as the first public building in what was known as San Pablo. The small adobe building that was first known as Mount Carmel was torn down and replaced in the early 1900’s and was rebuilt right near Arizona State’s campus on the corner of University and College Ave. In 1950 it was later moved to its current location, which is located on Rural Rd. between Broadway and Apache. Had it not been for the Anglo American and Mexican-American communities coming together for this project this church may have not been constructed in that short of a time period. Skilled Mexican settlers that were currently living in San Pueblo built Mount Carmel and also helped build Tempe’s Canal and a Floor Mill. Many of the fields that the farmers cultivated are where ASU’s current sports complexes are today. The Mexican settlers worked with Charles Trumbull-Hayden to build both of these.
During the late 1800’s Mexican Americans were one of the only groups of people living in Arizona at this time, and it was reported on the Census that 85% of Tempe was Hispanic. William Hudson Kirkland found it very important for the Mexicans living in Tempe to create their own community and tried very hard to help them with that. Many Mexican Americans found the catholic religion to be extremely important and this is why they felt having a church was extremely important. To this day a large portion of the parish is Mexican Americans.
The church’s architecture is very important to its significance as well as its history. It is an example of Territorial Victorian Romanesque Revival architecture. The church’s structure was actually constructed 2 miles away from the church where the bricks were fired, and the clay was brought in from Fort McDowell. A brick cutter from Tucson and a brick layer from Phoenix were two of the individuals that were the specialists on this project.
- Jennifer Sabula and Katy Tipton
Vega, Santos. Mexicans in Tempe. Charleston, NC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009. 7-50. Print.
Mark, Jay. "Tempe & San Pablo: A Tale of Two Towns." Tempe Republic June 9, 2007, 19Print.
"Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church." Information for Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Sound Mission, 2010. Web. 28 Nov 2010. <http://www.olmctempe.com/index.php>.