Photo: San José Church in Old San Juan
This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.
More than 240 sites have been on the list over its 26-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.
Old San Juan’s San José Church was built in 1532, the second oldest church in the Americas. One of the few surviving examples of 16th century Spanish Gothic architecture in the Western Hemisphere, the building displays four centuries of architectural design and masonry traditions including the extraordinary Isabelline Gothic vaults, a rare Catalan architectural design.
The land upon which the church was built was donated by Governor Don Juan Ponce de León who was also first buried there.
San José Church has been closed for 13 years and is experiencing severe deterioration and structural damage problems. While a coalition of community organizations and individuals is involved in the preservation effort, additional funding is needed to restore this irreplaceable treasure.
Patronato de Monumentos de San Juan, a nonprofit organization in charge of the restoration effort, is committed to doing authentic restoration, including the use of original materials and techniques.