Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Medina Cemetery embody the cultural traditions and practices of early Hispano settlers in Medina Plaza, a placita established near the Purgatoire River in southeastern Colorado by northern New Mexico native Agapito Medina and his family ca. 1862.
For nearly one hundred years, the church was the focus of Hispano community life and the location of many important community events including baptisms, marriages, funerals, celebrations, and feasts. Between 1902 and 1929, the church building served as the morada, or meeting hall, for los hermanos of the Penitente Brotherhood. A lay religious society, the Penitente Brotherhood developed in New Mexico to fill the gap left when Mexico expelled Spanish priests in the early 1800s.
The church is an important example of a Hispano Adobe church built to serve the small plazas established along the Purgatoire River between Trinidad and Stonewall. These churches are typically one-and-one-half stories in height, rectangular in plan, and feature adobe walls, a front-gable corrugated metal roof, open wood-frame belfry, and simple Victorian-era decorative details. The church’s modest design and vernacular details speaks to its history as a chapel built and maintained by the Medina family using local materials and traditional Hispano building techniques. The building is particularly notable for the thickness of its adobe walls, splayed window openings, remnants of manta de techo ceiling cloth, vigas, and associated historic cemetery.