YES! The Tabernacle building is eligible for listing in the National and Arizona Registers of Historic Places! We knew it, now the State Historic Preservation Office has declared it!
I need to share a valuable little back story to understand how this has happened and what this means moving forward. (I’ll sprinkle with a few historical photos!)
In early January 2023 I was made aware that the Cochise County Development Director Dan Coxworth believed most of the buildings on the Miracle Valley Bible College property should be demolished prior to selling the property for the State of Arizona who came into ownership of it last year. It has been his belief that the property should be classed as a ‘Brownfields site’, which is a label associated to properties which are a “blight” and have hazardous material needing disposed of. We understand and take seriously the need for safety. However, the experts we consulted including those who train the EPA, believe that this property should not be classed as a ‘Brownfields site’. Further, the hazardous material being referenced as a “life danger requiring abatement prior to sale” (asbestos) should only be removed if the intent is to demolish. Asbestos is not a life danger when left undisturbed and is not a liability to the county or state if left as it is.
Upon learning of the interest in January to demolish these buildings, I reached out via email to Cochise Supervisor Tom Crosby to make him aware of the historic value of the property and the desire of Miracle Valley Oasis Center to purchase the property. I made him aware via email in early February of statute A.R.S. 11-268(G) which states, “Before the removal of a dilapidated building the board of supervisors shall consult with the state historic preservation officer to determine if the building is of historical value.” This was circulated to several key county officials including Dan Coxworth who acknowledged.
Within a few weeks there was news that two buildings had been demolished under his direction without consulting the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and that Dan was also taking bids to demolish the Tabernacle church building. At this point, I hopped on a plane from England to Arizona and contacted the SHPO to make them aware of how Cochise county was operating outside of the statute. They quickly reached out to the county to stop demolition work on the property and invited them to submit a form to consult on the historic value of the Tabernacle building should they wish to continue. So, on April 17th Dan Coxworth submitted his request for this consult of that building.
On May 9th there was a special Board of Supervisors (BOS) Work Session with Cochise County staff “to determine the necessity or level of demolition appropriate for Miracle Valley structure”. At this meeting Dan Coxworth presented to the BOS. In this presentation he came back to the months ago conversation by bringing up all of the structures, not just the Tabernacle which is what the county were in the midst of consulting on and had met to discuss. The BOS determined they needed to wait for SHPO to finish their consultation and agreed unanimously that Dan Coxworth was to halt all work on the property until a further Work Session granted permission to proceed. Given that SHPO consulting had already required this halt anyway, it was merely a formality, but understandably made the news and was a welcomed support from BOS as to their legal responsibilities.
Through to May 15th I worked with a team of historians and assistants to produce a document to help assist the SHPO officer and staff in their consultation to Cochise county regarding the Tabernacle and its historic significance.
On May 17th, SHPO gave their determination… the Tabernacle is eligible for listing in the National and Arizona Registers of Historic Places for its, “significance of Religion as an important and influential institution within the historic context of American evangelicalism in the post-World War II and Civil Rights eras“, as well as “for its association with A. A. Allen as the property most notably associated with his influential ministry.”
This is fantastic news! So, what does this mean moving forward?
- To be clear, the Tabernacle is eligible for listing in the National and Arizona Registers of Historic Places. It has not already been listed, and it could be nominated to be listed which would take several months of work.
- Cochise County have only requested that SHPO consult on the historic value of ONE of TEN buildings. The statute A.R.S. 11-268(G) requires consultation with SHPO for EACH building intended for demolition. Consultation on one building cannot transfer to all the buildings on the property. They need to first consult on each of the buildings which Dan Coxworth has recommended for demolition.
- If this honorary distinction is pursued and granted, it would add further great value to the Tabernacle and property.
- Finally, according to statute 41-862 Cochise county is NOT allowed to now proceed with demolition since completing the consult. They are just getting started with their responsibilities to this property. It states, “In cooperation with the state historic preservation officer, each state agency shall establish a program to locate, inventory and nominate to the Arizona register of historic places all properties that are under the agency’s ownership or control and that appear to meet the criteria for inclusion on the register. Each state agency shall exercise caution to assure that the property is not inadvertently transferred, sold, demolished, substantially altered or allowed to deteriorate significantly. The state historic preservation officer shall include the performance of state agencies in initiating and satisfying the programmatic management of historic properties in the annual report to the legislature and the governor as provided in section 41-151.20.” The goal and responsibility of the Board of Supervisors regarding this statute is to value historic property and seek to ensure its future is secured. They must not be burdened with ownership forever, but they have a duty while it is in their care and for how to sell it.
I need to finish with a bold request to ask for your help.
Our team have poured finances, time and skill into helping save this property. We cannot do it alone. We need your help. Right now, we need God to provide for legal fees, administrative costs and funds to purchase property. This week, we need $6,500. Over the next few weeks, we need a total of $35,000. In the coming weeks and months we’ll need more but that is our immediate needs. If you’ve got $5 to spare or can help with all of it, your seed of generosity will bridge the gap and be used by God as we join it with our faith and fight against injustice.
If you can, please sow into helping save this historic Miracle Valley property. No amount is too small.
Give here: miraclevalleyoasiscenter.org/give
Please also pray with us for provision and for God’s hand to support us as we partner with so many to see the Miracle Valley property be saved from demolition. We are so grateful for you standing with us to help another miracle take place in Miracle Valley!