Tax Credit Program Highlight: Mission San Francisco de la Espada

San Antonio, Bexar County



Individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, a Texas State Antiquities Landmark, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Historic Use


Current Use

Church and historic site

Total Rehabilitation Cost


Qualified Rehabilitation Expenses


Date Certified

June 2, 2017


Certified for state tax credits only


Mission San Francisco de la Espada is the oldest Spanish Colonial mission in Texas. Founded by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in 1690, the mission was moved from East Texas to its current location along the San Antonio River in 1731. Mission Espada served to assimilate the native Coahuiltican groups into Spanish society, as well as provide protection against French incursions and secure Spanish territory in the New World. Native peoples learned trades such as masonry, carpentry and stonecutting. It was the only mission to make brick and tiles, evidence of which still remains. Mission Espada is notable for its aqueduct and acequia, constructed in 1731 and still in operation today.

Rehabilitation Project

The work certified for tax credits at Mission Espada began in 2014, and focused on completing conservation and repairs to the building that had been systematically researched since 2010. First, the exterior stone walls were stabilized where necessary by infilling voids in the wall cavity, installing tie rods, and the exterior stone walls were cleaned and repointed with soft lime-based mortar. An underground system was also installed to control rising damp from ground moisture into the stone walls. The roofs of the church and the annex (containing the sacristy and former priest’s quarters) were repaired or partially replaced to eliminate water infiltration, and damaged historic plaster and wood beams on the interior were repaired and restored. Interior kitchen, bathroom, and storage spaces, as well as the HVAC system, were improved. Perhaps the most iconic repair item was the restoration of the mission’s bells in the distinctive towering espadaña (bell wall), making the centuries-old bell system ring again for worshippers and visitors

Photo Gallery

Click on any image to view the photo gallery.

  • The original hand-laid stone walls at the annex's former priest's quarters were repointed with appropriate soft lime mortar. (Mortar should always be softer than the stone or brick.)