The Litchfield Park Historical Society hosts a centennial celebration of St. Thomas Aquinas Mission Church in Litchfield Park from noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 3.
The church is at the southwest corner of Neolin Avenue and Wigwam Boulevard in Litchfield Park. The cornerstone for this building was laid on Nov. 2, 1919.
The celebration will include dance performances by Ballet Folklorico Esperanza, traditional Matachines dancers from St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church, Dia de los Muertos displays, history displays, face painting and children’s crafts. Those who attended the church are encouraged to bring their favorite memories to record.
Located across from the Wigwam Resort entrance, the original St. Thomas Aquinas Mission Church was built to fill a need for the Mexican Catholic workers who were central to Litchfield Park’s early development. The building served worshipers for over 50 years.
When the church opened 100 years ago, speakers included Rev. Father Paul from St. Mary’s, who addressed attendees in English and Spanish, and T.W. McDevitt, president of the Phoenix Cotton Oil Company.
A partnership between Southwest Cotton Company, local residents and the Tucson Diocese of the Catholic Church brought the Litchfield Park church into existence. Company executive Paul Litchfield worked with local community members to select a site, purchase land, and recruit labor for construction.
Reginald Jonson, a prominent Pasadena architect and fellow M.I.T. alumnus of Litchfield’s, designed the church. Johnson won multiple awards during his career designing a mix of homes for the wealthy, public buildings and churches. Some of his designs include the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel and Hale Solar Laboratory in Pasadena.
While the cornerstone for St. Thomas Aquinas was dedicated in 1919, it wasn’t completed until 1923. Tough economic times in 1920 were likely responsible for construction delays.
All are welcome to this free event to honor the church centennial.