First in Series: New Mexico True Historic USA travel experiences
Provided by: Pueblo Bonito Bed and Breakfast Inn
Adobe bricks (mud bricks) are a long time New Mexico architectural building staple. Modern historic preservation efforts within Santa Fe’s historic district are to be commended for their preservation. New Mexico visitors travel with high expectations to see and experience ancient traditions of culture which adobe bricks encase and accurately preserve. Made of earth, traditional adobe bricks have a high clay content and straw mixture. If produced manually the earth mix is cast in open moulds onto the ground and left to be sun-dried, not kiln-fired. When used for construction they are laid up into a wall using an earth mortar. Before drying out, the finished walls are smoothed down and often a clay render applied as a surface coating.
Adobe brick building is an ancient technique common in the Americas and the Middle East. The oldest structural ruins made of earth date back to 8300 BC with some adobe buildings aged 800+ years still in use today! “Adobe” is a signature of Santa Fe New Mexico’s architecture and is beautifully preserved in many a historic building such as the De Vargas Street House (aka Oldest House in the USA). Built in 1200 CE, the original adobe home sits on the partial foundation of an ancient Indian Pueblo. Modern day use as a museum provides New Mexico visitors a viewing of this ancient art of adobe building. The De Vargas Street House has quiet a history and is a short stroll from Pueblo Bonito Inn- Santa Fe.
The Palace of the Governors (1610) is an adobe structure located on the north side of Santa Fe’s Plaza. The Palace of the Governors served as the seat of government for the state of New Mexico for centuries and is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States. The Palace originally served the Spanish colony of Nuevo Mexico, which at one time comprised present-day states of Texas, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada,California, and New Mexico. After the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican province of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico was administered from the Palace of the Governors. When New Mexico was annexed as a U.S. territory the Palace became New Mexico’s first territorial capitol.*
“Adobe” is the Spanish name derived from the older Arabic “al-tob”, dating from the Moorish occupation of Spain. Adobe walls have a number of advantages and relatively few disadvantages. Adobe bricks are fireproof, durable and biodegradable! Adobe is a non-toxic building material and can provide sufficient thermal mass to ensure excellent thermal efficiency and low sound transmission levels through walls to create a general feeling of solidity and security. Due to the nature of clay and the drying process, adobe bricks exhibits good water resistance. It is important to provide weather protection to extend life to the adobe brick especially in exposed situations. Adobe can be cut relatively easily to provide for fittings or services like vigas, corbels, pass through, etc. Many people today find the pattern and texture of adobe walls very attractive as is the case at Pueblo Bonito bed and breakfast inn.
Accurately highlighting traditional historic Santa Fe culture and adobe living, Pueblo Bonito was originally built in 1860. Once a private residence, now a popular downtown bed and breakfast. Its painstaking preservation efforts over the past 30 years has transformed this massive 2 foot thick adobe walled structure into a one of a kind Santa Fe travel experience! Adobe walls surround 18 guest rooms each with a traditional kiva fireplace and adorable mosaic tiled private bathroom-essential modern conveniences! Traditional room features include: colorful nichos vanities, natural wood floors and vigas, hand plastered nichos and bancos, hand carved corbels and much more. Santa Fe, New Mexico is a top historic treasure for US travel buffs wanting to experience a true slice of historic dating back over 400 years.
San Miguel Mission: also known as San Miguel Chapel, is a Spanish colonial mission church located in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico – a block from the historic Pueblo Bonito Inn. Claimed to be the oldest church in the United States, San Miguel Mission was built around 1626. Damage sustained during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was rebuilt in 1710 following the Spanish reconquest for which the chapel served Spanish soldiers. Hand carved pieces located inside the chapel include a wooden statue of Saint Michael dating back to at least 1709. Though the church has been repaired and rebuilt numerous times over the years, its original adobe walls are still largely intact despite having been hidden by later additions. The mission is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Loretto Chapel– originally a Roman Catholic church, now privately owned and used as a museum with wedding chapel. A long time subject of legend, the “Miraculous Staircase” and circumstances surrounding it are considered miraculous by the Sisters of Loretto as well as many visitors. In 1872, a convent chapel was commissioned to be built and named Our Lady of Light Chapel for the Sisters of Loretto. Designed by French architect Antoine Mouly in Gothic Revival style, ornately decorated with spires, buttresses, and stained glass windows imported from France, the Loretto Chapel built on a smaller scale, bears close resemblance to Paris’s Sainte-Chapelle. After the architect’s sudden death, and much of the construction finished, it was realized no type of stairway to the choir loft was provided. Needing a way to get up to the choir loft the nuns prayed for St. Joseph’s intercession for nine straight days after which a stranger appeared at their door. Offering to build the nuns a staircase, but requiring total privacy he locked himself in the chapel for three months. Using a only primitive tools including a square, saw and warm water he constructed a spiral staircase entirely of non-native wood. The carpenter’s identity was never known for as soon as the staircase was finished he was gone. Witnesses, upon seeing the staircase, felt it was constructed as a miraculous occurrence by St Joseph himself. The mystery has never been solved as to who the carpenter was or where he got his lumber, for no reports were made of anyone seeing lumber delivered nor of the man come and go while construction was done. Less than a five minute walk from Pueblo Bonito b&b inn– the Loretto Chapel is a must see when Mission touring Santa Fe.
Cristo Rey church (Spanish for Christ King), is a beautiful adobe example of historic New Mexico Mission architecture with notable Spanish colonial retablos and santos adorning its sanctuary. Used for worship, weddings and community events, this active Roman Catholic church quietly sits at the east end of Canyon Rd on the corner of Cristo Rey street. An easy five minute drive from Pueblo Bonito b&b as you peruse the famous art and sculpture work on Canyon Road.
Galisteo Mission the Pueblo of the Tanos (Galisteo Pueblo) was founded around 1250 AD. A thriving community of 1,000+ surface dwellings was situated on the west side of Galisteo Creek. This pueblo presented an impressive appearance to outside visitors for the time period. Once named “San Lucas” by Spanish settlers in 1590, Juan de Oñate renamed the pueblo “Santa Ana” in 1600. In early seventeenth century again renaming occurred and the village became known as “Santa Cruz de Galisteo“. Franciscan brothers founded this first permanent mission among the Tanoan speaking people in 1612. It was the earliest mission in the Galisteo Basin as well as one of the earliest missions in New Mexico. This 17th century church was unique as it was built sufficiently wide – having three aisles with two rows of support columns leading from the sanctuary. Though it is not certain whom is responsible for the notable church design, Fray Pedro de Ortega, is thought to have contributed. Galisteo Mission is located a short, but beautiful 20 minute drive south of Santa Fe’s Pueblo Bonito bed and breakfast inn off Hwy 41 in Galisteo New Mexico.
The Santuario de Guadalupe originally built in 1781, located on Guadalupe St- just a five minute walk north-west of Pueblo Bonito b&b inn, it is known as the “Soul of Santa Fe“. This historic mission church played a very significant role in religious, cultural, and traditional life of the people of Santa Fe. It is the oldest, still-standing church dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the US and Canada. Located at the end of the Camino Real (the main route from Mexico City via Chihuahua to the Southwest) which brought Spanish ancestors and the Franciscan friars who ministered and sowed seeds of Christian faith with a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. This historic New Mexico mission is considered to be very holy. El Santuario de Guadalupe church is currently an art and history museum and contains the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s collection of New Mexican santos (carved images of the saints), Italian Renaissance paintings, and Mexican baroque paintings. Among the treasured works is Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the largest and finest oil paints of the Spanish Southwest, dated 1783 and signed by Jose de Alzibar, one of Mexico’s most renowned painters.Sanctuario de Chimayo – Located north of Santa Fe, New Mexico on Hwy 285/520 – a short 20 minute drive from Inn at Pueblo Bonito in the historic village of Chimayó, New Mexico – one can view this rustic and serene active Roman Catholic Church. This is one of the most famous churches in New Mexico and North America. Known as a shrine and National Historic Landmark, El Sanctuario de Chimayo receives over 300,000 visitors a year and is called the most important and largest Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States. The walled courtyard entrance is one of the most photographed sites in Northern New Mexico and houses a small cemetery. This picturesque church, built of three foot thick adobe walls has a bell tower on each side with pointed caps and a metal pitched roof that were probably added in the 1920s. Thick, yet elegant wood doors were carved by 19th-century carpenter Pedro Domínguez while notable folk-art carvings and decorations can be found inside the sanctuary and narthex. Of special note, a small room called el pocito (the little well), located just left of the front alter, contains a round pit. This “round pit” is the source of “holy dirt” (tierra bendita) that is believed to have healing powers. The adjacent Prayer Room displays photographs, discarded crutches, and unique testimonials of those who have received healing. Recently added is the outside sanctuary needed to receive mass numbers of pilgrims on Good Friday and Easter walks.
Pecos Mission (aka: Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula or Mission of Our Lady of the Angels of Porciúncula) was a mission that served the people of Pecos Pueblo near Pecos, New Mexico. The first church at Pecos Pueblo is thought to have been built by Franciscan Fray Pedro Zambrano Ortiz around 1619. This isolated church was built along a narrow ridge, 400 m northeast of the pueblo’s main quadrangle, as the pueblo people would not allow construction closer to their dwelling sites. A permanent church was constructed outside the walls of the pueblo of Pecos, New Mexico in 1625. This church was destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, wherein the Spanish were ejected from New Mexico. After the Spanish reconquest in 1693, a smaller church was built in 1717 for which the walls of this later church still stand on top of the prior church’s stone foundation. Ruins are located 25 miles south east of Santa Fe’s Pueblo Bonito Inn off I-25 in Pecos National Historic Park.