Lofgren applauds National Historic Landmark designation for McDonnell Hall

January 11, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today applauded the Department of the Interior's official National Historic Landmark designation for Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel (McDonnell Hall).

McDonnell Hall, built in 1911, and the original home of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Chapel, was the home for the Community Service Organization (CSO) César Chávez worked as a community organizer, civil rights leader, and labor rights leader between 1952 and 1962. The work carried out at the chapel ultimately helped shape modern American Latino identity.

Lofgren wrote to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to express her strong support for National Historic Landmark designation for Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel last fall.

"I'm so proud of the communal effort that has led to such a great recognition for this simple chapel where one of our greatest civil rights champions began a movement that changed lives throughout our nation," said Lofgren. "In particular, I want to thank and congratulate Bishop P.J. McGrath, the late Deacon Sal Alvarez, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, and the entire community for their tireless advocacy."

Chávez, who lived in East San Jose's Sal Si Puedes neighborhood, co-founded the National Farm Worker's Association, and became a renowned civil rights activist who led the movement to improve labor conditions for farm workers. It was at McDonnell Hall where Chávez was introduced through his Catholic faith to the ideas of nonviolence, self-sacrifice, and social justice by Father Donald McDonnell, for whom the building is named. Chávez led the early activities of community organizing including voter registration drives and CSO meetings at McDonnell Hall, which also served as the staging ground for the Farm Labor Movement and the Delano Grape Strikes.

The National Historic Landmarks Program recognizes historic properties of exceptional value to the nation and promotes the preservation efforts of federal, state, and local agencies and Native American tribes, as well as those of private organizations and individuals. The program is one of more than a dozen administered by the National Park Service that provide states and local communities technical assistance, recognition and funding to help preserve our nation's shared history and create close-to-home recreation opportunities.

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