The Monroe Abbey

Phoenix, AZ

The ruined structure known as The Monroe Abbey, located in Phoenix, was constructed in 1929 as the First Baptist Church. The building reflected an Italian Gothic style influenced by the Moderne aesthetic, a compatible choice for the larger context of downtown Phoenix, which was dominated by Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival buildings at the time. The First Baptist Church building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in February 1982. In January 1984, a fire was set inside the church, which spread out of control and destroyed wood structural members including floor joists and roof trusses, as well as interior woodwork and plaster ceilings. Masonry walls and concrete floors survived, leaving the historic church building a roofless ruin. Nevertheless, community groups and the City of Phoenix stepped in to save the church from demolition, installing structural reinforcement and protective covers.

In 2017, EverGreene was retained by Jones Studio, Inc. to conduct a condition assessment and treatment testing on the ruins of The Monroe Abbey. The purpose of the project was to evaluate the condition of historic fabric, identify deterioration as well as ongoing threats to its long-term preservation, and to test possible remedial and preventive conservation treatments. The condition assessment identified a range of conditions affecting historic architectural materials including brick and cast stone masonry, as well as stucco and specialty plasters. The assessment included a survey to record approximate quantities of deterioration through graphic documentation. EverGreene coordinated materials analysis by an independent laboratory to evaluate the strength and durability of plaster and masonry damaged by fire and exposed to weathering for over 30 years. Conservation treatment testing included restoration mortars and grouts, in addition to consolidants, sealers, coatings, and adhesives employed to stabilize fragile materials in a ruined state. The building owners hope to preserve the structure as a unique venue for events and commercial space.