Laredo (Webb County)

San Agustin Cathedral. Credit: AMAPO (Wikimedia)

San Agustin Church was established in 1756 with the founding of the Villa de Laredo de San Agustin (now the City of Laredo).  Facing the original town square, the current building is the third on the site and was constructed in 1872. Designed by French priest Pierre Yves Keralum, the  Cathedral is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and it contributes to the significance of the San Agustin de Laredo National Register Historic District. In 2000, Catholic dioceses were restructured in South Texas and this church was selected to serve as the Cathedral for the newly formed Diocese of Laredo.  Nineteen years later, however, the structure requires repairs and adaptation to serve this new function.

Deterioration of the front façade of the church was precipitated by an especially severe hurricane in 1905 and the entire front wall of the church was repaired in 1911. The bell tower was spared but cracks have been spreading throughout the building as the tower is leaning and separating from the main church structure. Cracks are apparent along the terrazzo floor, at plastered columns and walls, ceilings and at the apex of the gothic arched stained glass windows. The tower has sustained damage, which worsened through the years because the local parish does not have adequate resources to maintain and repair the structure.

Since 2000, steps have been taken to protect and stabilize the Church Tower. In 2013, the tower foundation was reinforced and repaired followed by subsurface compaction. Complete roof replacement for the Cathedral and the Steeple was completed in May 2014. Destabilization has occurred elsewhere due to the movement of the tower prior to undergoing stabilization, resulting in profound damage. Since then, a condition assessment report, master plan, prioritization and implementation plan has been completed by a team of architects and engineers. In November 2017 a capital campaign began in an attempt to raise $11 million to protect this historic landmark.