Tumacácori National Historical Park: Museum & Visitor Center – Tumacácori AZ


The Tumacácori National Monument was set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 to protect the ruins of the Mission of San Jose de Tumacacori.  In 1918, it came under the administration of the National Park Service and its regional ‘custodian’, Frank Pinkley.  Congress created the Tumacácori National Historic Park in 1990, adding the ruins of two nearby missions, Los Santos Angeles de Guevavi and San Cayetano de Calabazas.

Under the park service’s guidance, Tumacácori mission church and its dependencies were stabilized in 1920-21, but intentionally not restored.  Only with the aid of the New Deal did the park come to take on its present appearance with the addition of surrounding walls, a visitors center and museum in the mission style, and a decorative garden.

Much of the work at the work was done with the help of the New Deal, under several agencies: the Civil Works Administration (CWA), Public Works Administration (PWA), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). 

The most important addition to Tumacácori National Monument was the museum and visitors’ center building, constructed in 1937 with funding from the Public Works Administration (PWA). Exhibits were installed in 1938 and the official dedication took place in April 1939.

The building material is adobe bricks covered with stucco. The interiors have wood beam ceilings. The exterior has covered walkways with arched openings. The design was  intended to reproduce Spanish Colonial Mission style and the PWA paid for NPS staff to tour 13 missions in Mexico in 1935 in order to come up with an historically accurate layout.

The Museum and Visitors Center is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the plaque makes no mention of the New Deal contributions. Happily, an excellent pamphlet detailing the New Deal at Tumacácori is available from the National Park Service for $1 at the visitor’s center (Bleser and Badertscher, nd).


Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s
28992 28992

Source notes

Nicolas Bleser and Anita Badertscher, The 'New Deal' at Tumacácori National Monument, Tumacácori National Historical Park (NPS), n.d. (pamphlet available at visitor's center)

"The New Deal in Arizona: Connections to Our Historic Landscape," University of Arizona, The New Deal in Arizona Chapter of the National New Deal Preservation Association.

quote can be found at: http://content.library.arizona.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/NewDeal/id/221

C.W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown. Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies Between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration. (1939).



Project originally submitted by Richard A Walker on July 31, 2012.
Additional contributions by Joan Greer.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

1891 E. Frontage Rd.
Tumacacori, AZ 85640

Coordinates: 31.5623361, -111.04996360000001

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