Mexican families from the Sanora region soon moved into the area. Utilizing materials from the fort’s buildings, they constructed a thriving and growing community on land others considered barren. By harvesting mesquite, these settlers built a robust business in providing wood for Tucson. This early development was called El Barriada del Rillito or more commonly, El Fuerte.
In need for a place to worship, the community established a tiny chapel called La Capillita in 1915. A Carmelite father would ride from the Holy Family Parish and hold services for the 15 Mexican families in the El Fuerte area. The priest would stand in the chapel and families would gather under the shade of a mesquite tree out front to hear the sermon.
In 1917, Señora Josefa de Mule donated land to construct a larger chapel. The chapel was constructed from local materials including clay for the adobe walls. The church was called, Santo Ángel de la Guarda and stood on the site until 1929 when it was destroyed by a dust storm or possibly a tornado.
The present church was established on the foundations of Santo Ángel de la Guarda. The church was served by the same order of priest until 1948 when St. Cyril’s became the community church. The church is still available for events and weddings.
Know Before You Go
The chapel and church are easily accessible from Fort Lowell Road.