Tourist-popular Mission Trail links San Jose, Concepcion, San Juan and Espada with an aqueduct. The fifth mission is the Alamo, the historic battlefield site overseen by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
The missions "are creations of this land," said Father David Garcia, director of Las Misiones, a campaign to preserve the mission churches.
Maintenance of the buildings, which are more than 250 years old, is a delicate and potentially expensive matter, according to Garcia, who says Las Misiones has raised $13.5 million.
The nonprofit group needs an additional $2 million to address immediate needs at the four missions, he said.
The missions could benefit from nearby developments, including plans to revitalize and connect the structures to an environmental restoration project along the San Antonio River, the San Antonio Express-News reported Thursday.
The mission churches, except for the Alamo, remain active Catholic parishes. They once fell into so much disrepair that even the church at Concepcion was used to store grain and livestock, mission restoration architect Carolyn Peterson said.
"I can remember when the idea of attending something at (Mission) San Jose to most people in San Antonio was like going out of the country," Peterson said. "Now I think all of the missions have been embraced by the community."