There were Spanish colonization attempts here in the 16th century but it was not until New Mexico’s third Spanish governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, founded a town at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1608 that habitation took root. Don Pedro called his settlement La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís, the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi and in 1610 he made it the capital of the province. For over 400 years Santa Fe has served almost continuously as a capital city.
That break occurred during the years 1680 to 1692 when the native Pueblo Indians, who had settled here some 600 years earlier, drove the Spaniards from their ancestral lands and the town was abandoned. Don Diego de Vargas reconquered the Pueblos and re-established Santa Fe as the provincial seat of Spanish holdings in the Southwest. In 1824 Santa fe was formalized as the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fé de Nuevo México and in 1848, when the United States gained New Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo it became the American territorial capital. Finally, in 1912, when New Mexico entered the Union as the 47th state, Santa Fe continued as the capital city, albeit with a population of scarcely 5,000.
By that time the main line of the railroad had bypassed Santa Fe and the federal government had abandoned revenue-producing Fort Marcy. Town officials pegged their future on tourism - at a time when the automobile was less than 20 years old and Route 66 was more than a decade away. The eclectic streetscape that had emerged over the previous 100 years was jettisoned for a total adherence to a single unified building style - the Spanish Pueblo Revival look with flat roofs, exposed log beams known as vigas and earth-toned exteriors. The 1930s saw an inclusion of the traditional Territorial style that featured white-painted wooden trim. Since 1957, by law, every new or rebuilt structure in Santa Fe must exhibit a Spanish Territorial or Pueblo style of architecture.
To see the faces of “City Different” our walking will begin where the Spanish laid out the city in accordance with the “Laws of the Indies,” whose fundamental principle was to create the streets around a central plaza...
bounded by San Francisco Street, Palace Avenue, Washington Avenue and Lincoln Avenue
This city-square has been the center of Santa Fe commercial and social life since 1610. The original Plaza was a walled fort containing residences, a chapel and the Governor’s palace. The walls eventually came down and the open space was framed with adobe buildings seen today. Since 1821 the Plaza was the final destination for travelers on the 800-mile Santa Fe Trail, America’s most important trade route into the Southwest. The central obelisk was erected in 1868 as a remembrance to men lost in “battles with Indians in the Territory of New Mexico.”
WALK TO THE NORTH SIDE OF THE PLAZA WHERE TRAFFIC IS BLOCKED. THE BLOCK-LONG, SINGLE-STORY BUILDING IS...
Palace of the Governors
105 West Palace Avenue
One of America’s architectural treasures, this low-slung building was constructed 400 years ago as the fortress of the royal presidio of Santa Fe and is the oldest public building in the continental United States. The Palace originally served as the seat of government of the Spanish colony and over two centuries later when New Mexico was annexed as a United States territory, the Palace became the first territorial capitol. For much of the past 100 years it has done duty as the state history museum.
FACING THE PALACE OF GOVERNORS, TURN LEFT AND WALK TO THE WEST SIDE OF THE PLAZA.
First National Bank of Santa Fe
162 Lincoln Avenue at southwest corner of Palace Avenue
Founded in 1870, First National Bank of Santa Fe is the oldest bank in the Southwest United States. The bank has been in this location since 1954, in a building designed by John Gaw Meem. The Brazilian-born Meem was educated in civil engineering at the Virginia Military Institute but came to Santa Fe in 1920 at the age of 26 seeking a cure for tuberculosis. Shifting into architecture, Meem became one of the first architects to specialize in Pueblo and Spanish Colonial building techniques. In a long career that saw over 600 commissions Meem designed many of Santa Fe’s most memorable buildings and headed the committee that mandated that all city structures adhere to traditional materials and architecture.
CROSS THE PLAZA TO THE EAST SIDE.
53-55 Old Santa Fe Trail, east side of Plaza
Thomas Benton Catron, a lawyer who wielded grand influence in the politics and business life of the New Mexico Territory as the leader of the infamous Santa Fe Ring, commissioned this commercial block in 1891. Catron ruled his empire from a second floor office in the northwest corner. When it was built the Catron Block reflected the general Italianate style that dominated the Plaza at the time but today the second story, with its hooded windows, is the only representative survivor of the style. The bricks used in the building were manufactured in the state penitentiary located south of the Plaza and assembled by the local firm of Berardinelli and Palladino, families of Italian stonemasons brought to Santa Fe to work on the St. Francis Cathedral.
FACING THE CATRON BLOCK TURN RIGHT AND WALK TO THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE PLAZA. TURN LEFT TO EXIT THE PLAZA ON SAN FRANCISCO STREET.
La Fonda on the Plaza
100 East San Francisco Street
Weary travelers have found comfort on this corner for upwards of 400 years. In the 1800s the inn - or “fonda” - here marked the terminus of the famous Santa Fe Trail where soldiers, prospectors and gamblers all gathered. The present Pueblo Revival incarnation dates to 1922 and is the handiwork of famed Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem and celebrated Southwest designer Mary Jane Colter. In 1925 the property was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF) which leased the inn to the Fred Harvey Company that operated a chain of restaurants and hotels alongside railroads in the western United States. The first “Harvey House” opened along the AT & SF tracks in Florence, Kansas in 1878 and there would eventually be 84 Fred Harvey facilities. The Harvey House on the Plaza operated until 1968 when it was bought by a local businessman, Sam Ballen. It remains one of the few former Harvey Houses still in operation.
Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
108 Cathedral Place between San Francisco Street and Palace Avenue
This Pueblo Revival block-long building was raised as the Santa Fe Federal Building, designed to house the post office, in 1922. After the government moved out it became a museum depository for the Institute of American Indian Arts, a college focused on Native American art created by an executive order of President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
St. Francis Cathedral Basilica
131 Cathedral Place
Santa Fe received its first Catholic bishop, Father John Baptiste Lamy of France, in 1850. One of his first acts was to overhaul the adobe church that had been of service since 1714. Remy brought architect Antoine Mouly and his son, Projectus Mouly from Paris to design a new Romanesque church and recruited Italian stonemasons to handle the construction of his new church that began in 1869. In a practice common to the day the building was constructed around the existing adobe church and when the new walls were complete the old church was dismantled and removed through the front door. St. Francis was dedicated in 1887 although planned spires were never completed due to a lack of funds. Still in the church is a statue of Our Lady La Conquistadora, brought from Spain in 1625 and considered the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.
TURN RIGHT ON CATHEDRAL PLACE. TURN RIGHT ON WATER STREET. TURN LEFT ON OLD SANTA FE TRAIL.
207 Old Santa Fe Trail
Work began on this chapel for the Academy of Our Lady of Light (Loretto) in 1873, using stone quarried from locations around town. The French Gothic design was influenced by King Louis IX’s Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. The chapel was completed in 1878, graced by ornate stained glass transported from the DuBis Studio in Paris by sailing ship and covered wagon. Another highlight was the “Miraculous Staircase,” wooden steps created with two 360-degree turns, no nails and no visible means of support. Crafted by an unknown carpenter, the stairway was put together with wooden pegs. The Loretto Academy was closed in 1968 and the chapel deconsecrated; today the property operates as a private museum.
CROSS THE SANTA FE RIVER (NOW A SEASONAL STREAM BUT A YEAR-ROUND FLOW UNTIL THE 1700S) AND TURN RIGHT ON EAST DE VARGAS STREET.
Barrio de Analco Historic District
East De Vargas Street
This alley is the Barrio de Analco neighborhood, first established in the early 1600s by Indian workers toiling on the San Miguel Chapel. The name derives from the Tiaxcalteca Indian language for “the place next to the water.” The district was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968 and boasts seven historic structures. On this block are the Roque Tudesqui House at #129-135 and the Gregorio Crespin House at #132. The Santa Fe Playhouse at #142 operates from an old livery stable. Founded in 1922, it is the oldest currently operating theater west of the Mississippi River.
TURN LEFT ON DON VARGAS AVENUE.
New Mexico’s Eternal Flame
northwest corner of Don Gaspar Avenue and South Capitol Place
This memorial to New Mexico’s war dead was dedicated in 1966. The marker comes from Fort Bliss in Texas, whose men were overrun by Japanese forces in the Philippines during World War II. Survivors were then subject to the infamous “death march” up the Bataan peninsula.
ACROSS THE STREET, WALK UP THROUGH THE STATE CAPITOL GROUNDS.
New Mexico State Capitol
Don Gaspar Avenue and Paseo De Peratta
This is capitol building number five for New Mexico, dedicated in 1966 by Robert E. McKee with plans by W.C. Kruger that incorporated past Santa Fe design elements from the New Mexico Territorial, Pueblo Revival and Greek Revival styles. Known as the “Roundhouse,” the four-story cylindrical structure is the only round capitol building in the United States. Seen from above the Roundhouse approximates the Zia sun symbol displayed on the state flag but you will have to take that on faith.
EXIT THE CAPITOL GROUNDS ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE AND TURN LEFT ONTO THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL.
Old Santa Fe Trail and Capitol Street
The College of Christian Brothers of New Mexico opened its doors to boys in an adobe hut in 1859. By 1878 the prep school was operating as St. Michael’s College and the core of this building constructed. The lower two floors were constructed of adobe and a third floor of wooden framing was capped by a mansard roof. Local residents chipped in with the building costs, donating lumber, 735 sheep, two goats, two oxen and a heifer. The original stucco was scored to suggest more expensive masonry. Fire destroyed the third floor in 1926 and it was never rebuilt as the old school absorbed a Territorial style makeover. When it was converted into a state office building in the 1950s it picked up the name of Jean Baptiste Lamy, Roman Catholic archbishop sent to New Mexico in 1850.
San Miguel Mission
401 Old Santa Fe Trail
The original church was raised here between 1610 and 1626, giving it a claim as America’s oldest house of worship. The building was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 but was put back in service in 1710 to serve as a chapel for Spanish soldiers. Hidden inside additions and numerous repairs, the original adobe walls still stand largely intact.
TURN RIGHT ON EAST DE VARGAS STREET.
De Vargas Street House
215 East De Vargas Street
This may or may not be the oldest house in America. There is no definitive date for its construction but the adobe house is a product of the 1600s. Some claim the tree rings on the supporting vigas date the house to 1647 and it appears on a 1675 map.
THE BACK OF THE BUILDING YOU ARE WALKING BEHIND ON YOUR RIGHT IS...
Lew Wallace Building
413 Old Santa Fe Trail
This government building began life as a dormitory for St. Michael’s School in 1887. It carries the name of Lewis Wallace, an Indiana native who distinguished himself in service during the Mexican War and the Civil War. He was called from his law practice in Indiana to become Governor of the Territory of New Mexico from 1878 until 1881. During that time he published his historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, that became one of the best-selling books in American history. After his service in New Mexico, Wallace was appointed as United States Minister to the Ottoman Empire from 1881 to 1885 before returning to live out his life in Indiana.
AT THE END OF THE WALLACE BUILDING YOU CAN WALK AROUND AND SEE THE FRONT BEFORE CONTINUING ON EAST DE VARGAS STREET. CROSS PASEO DE PERALTA AND CONTINUE TO WHERE DE VARGAS STREET JOINS CANYON ROAD. AT CANYON ROAD, TURN RIGHT.
Canyon Road became populated by artists for the same reason most artist enclaves are created - the rents were the lowest in town. But that was in the 1920s when the track was a dirt path down which burros hauled firewood to be sold on the street corners of downtown Santa Fe. Canyon Road would not be paved until 1964. Today the half-mile long road boasts more than 100 art galleries and consistently ranks in the top three markets in America for art sales. As you stroll up through the Canyon Road galleries there are historic buildings as well.
400 Canyon Road
This gallery has been housed for three decades in the First Ward School, opened in 1906. Contractor Carlo Digneo, one of the town’s leading builders, executed the plans of I.H. and W.M. Rapp in red brick with a budget of $5,311.00. The Board of Education sold the property in 1928 and it then did duty as a zoo, a theater, an apartment house and antiques store.
The James L. Johnson House/El Zaguán
545 Canyon Road
This mid-1800s building is one of Santa Fe’s best examples of adobe architecture with a Territorial-style brick parapet above the south elevation. The house is known by the long hallway, or zaguán, that opens into various rooms behind the paneled wood gate in the adobe wall. The property was purchased in 1816 by Juan Ignacio Moya but first developed by James L. Johnson, a Maryland man who came to Santa Fe in 1857 as a trader. Johnson grew rich peddling his wares on the Santa Fe Trail until the coming of the railroad in the 1880s. Johnson family members stayed until 1926 after which the villa did various duty as a school and a hotel and is now houses resident artists. The property is renowned for its interior heritage garden that dates to Johnson’s time.
Rafael Borrego House
724 Canyon Road at Camino del Monte Sol
Records document that the forerunner of this hacienda was constructed in 1753 when Geronomo Lopez purchased the lot. His descendants sold it to Rafael Borrego in 1839. The Borregos were movers and shakers in Santa Fe political life and legend maintains that the Territorial Legislature met here. The Borrego family lived here until 1906.
TURN LEFT ON EAST PALACE AVENUE AND BEGIN WALKING BACK TOWARDS DOWNTOWN.
Francisca Hinojos House
355 East Palace Avenue
A large landowner, Francisca Hinojos, took advantage of the French designers in town to work on the St. Francis Cathedral to have this house constructed in the 1870s. You can still see some of the Victorian sensibilities in the design of this house on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Church of the Holy Faith
311 East Palace Avenue
The small Episcopalian congregation began as a “house church” in 1863. Their first formal house of worship was one of the first dressed-stone structures in Santa Fe when it was raised in 1881. subsequent additions, includingone of half-timbered Tudor influence, were the work of such celebrated draftsmen as Gustave Bauman and John Gaw Meem.
Willi Spiegelberg House
237 East Palace Avenue
Solomon Jacob Spiegelberg was a sutler following the United States Army during the Mexican War when he settled in New Mexico in 1846, setting the foundation for the town’s most influential Jewish mercantile family. Brother Willi arrived in 1861, one of five German Spiegelberg brothers to take root in Santa Fe. Willi constructed this house in 1880. Although of adobe construction, the exterior radiates European style. It was the first house in Santa Fe to use gas pipes. By 1888 all of the Spiegelberg brothers had moved to New York. Willi was the last to leave, selling the house for $3,000.
141 East Palace Avenue at Otero Street
This building began life in the 1880s as an elaborate brick Victorian pile that served as the county courthouse. After being ravaged by fire in 1909 it re-emerged as a symmetrical Neoclassical structure designed by influential architect Isaac Hamilton Rapp, creator of what came to be known as the Santa Fe style. Rapp learned his trade in Illinois before migrating to Trinidad, Colorado in 1887 at the age of 33. He would later be joined by his brother William Morris Rapp in winning many Santa Fe commissions. After the county moved into more modern space in the 1930s the newly christened Coronado Building picked up a Territorial flavor as it became office space.
125 East Palace Avenue
Successful merchant Don Juan Sena purchased this land in 1796 and began building the family home with his son Major Jose Sena. Eventually Sena and his wife Isabel Baca de Sena would add 33 rooms to the sprawling residence to accommodate 23 children. Over the years La Casa Sena evolved in the Territorial style, a local interpretation of the Greek Revival style with tall, narrow doors, windows with wooden lintels and posts sporting molding that simulated Greek columns.
107 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe was a staging point for scientists arriving in New Mexico to work on the super secret Manhattan project in Los Alamos that led to the creation of the world’s first nuclear weapons during World War II. Many of those scientists were processed through an unmarked office in this building and slipped out the back door.
TURN RIGHT ON WASHINGTON AVENUE.
Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe
125 Washington Avenue at the corner of Nusbaum Street
Nusbaum Street remembers the last owner of a frontier-era house built here by Henry Connelly, a Kentucky man who built trading posts in the New Mexico territory and served as Territorial governor during the Civil War. After it was dismantled in 1960 the outrage over its destruction sparked the formation of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation. The hotel is a 1990 creation.
Santa Fe Public Library
145 Washington Avenue
The first books lent in Santa Fe were distributed by the Women’s Board of Trade and Library Association that set up a reading room near the Plaza in 1896. A public library was established at 120 Washington Avenue in 1908 that grew steadily in popularity until more spacious digs were required. In 1987 the collection moved here, via a human book brigade passing books down the street, into the Berardinelli Building, a former city hall designed by John Gaw Meem in 1936.
Padre Gallegos House
231 Washington Avenue
José Manuel Gallegos was born on October 30, 1815, in the town of Abiquiu, Nuevo México and carved out a colorful and oft times controversial career first in the Catholic Church and later in politics. In 1851 Gallegos was elected to the first Territorial council of New Mexico and two years later he departed for Washington as the first New Mexican Delegate to Congress. This house, now restored and remodeled, was built after his return between 1857 and 1862. During and after the Civil War, part of the building served as a boarding house and as offices for numerous governmental agencies. For a short period, The First Episcopal Chapel in Santa Fe was located in the north wing.
Scottish Rite Temple
463 Paseo de Peralta at northwest corner of Washington Avenue
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry commissioned Los Angeles architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas R. Burns to design a temple in 1909. Hunt and Burns delivered a Moorish Revival design based roughly on the gatehouses to the Court of Lions at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Ever since the temple was completed in 1911 it has been clad in distinctive pink stucco. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
TURN LEFT ON PASEO DE PERALTA. AT THE END OF THE STONE BUILDING ON YOUR LEFT, TURN LEFT AND WALK BETWEEN IT AND THE POST OFFICE TO FEDERAL PLACE AND TURN LEFT. WALK A FEW STEPS TO THE HEAD OF LINCOLN AVENUE.
Santiago E. Campos United States Courthouse
106 South Federal Place
This building had its beginnings in 1851 as the proposed territorial capitol for New Mexico. Supervising Architect of the Treasury, Ammi B. Young, sketched out plans for an imposing Greek Revival structure the likes of which were rarely seen in the Southwest. But funding was intermittent and then the Civil War intervened. Thirty years later the building was still scarcely half-finished when it was abandoned altogether. In 1889 construction was resumed with rough stone quarried in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains but the federal building was used as a courthouse and not a statehouse. A two-story addition and connecting vestibule were added in 1929.
TURN AND WALK DOWN LINCLON AVENUE. ON YOUR RIGHT IS...
Lincoln Avenue and Marcy Avenue
With plenty of government funds available for building during the Great Depression of the 1930s John Gaw Meem and his draftsmen were busy with populating the town with Territorial Revival-style public buildings. The Municipal Building was one of those projects.
TURN RIGHT ON MARCY AVENUE.
Grant Avenue and Marcy Avenue
More than 20 years in the making the Convention Center opened in 2008 as one of the town’s greenest buildings. Among other initiatives the building captures all water run-off and diverts it into landscape irrigation.
TURN LEFT ON GRANT AVENUE.
First Presbyterian Church
208 Grant Avenue
The first Presbyterian church in the New Mexico Territory organized in 1866 and the following year the nascent congregation purchased the ruins of an earlier Baptist church at this location for $5,100. Growth was slow, however. It wasn’t long before all five of the original trustees were gone - three moved and two were murdered. In 1874 there was only one person - the postmaster - on the rolls. By 1881, however, the old adobe ruins were replaced with a new red brick building but the church still only had 66 members to greet the new century. The present sanctuary is a 1939 creation of John Gaw Meem, for a congregation that would grow to over a thousand by the 1970s.
Pinckney R. Tully House
136 Griffin Street
This ten-room adobe house was built by Pinckney R. Tully, a Santa Fe trader, in 1851 along what was then the road from Santa Fe to the village of Tesuque. It stands as an outstanding example of New Mexico Territorial architecture which blended the simple Spanish-Pueblo adobe style with mainstream eastern architectural features.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson Street at Grant Avenue
Georgia O’Keefe did not spend her first time in New Mexico until she was 41 years old in 1929, by which point she had distinguished herself as one of America’s most important modern artists. Working in New York, her abstract imagery was among the most innovative of any work produced in the period by American artists. After her husband’s death she made northern New Mexico her permanent home in 1949, painting landscapes, adobe churches and objects collected from the desert floor with such vividness the region became known as “O’Keefe Country” by the time of her death at age 98. The museum dedicated to Georgia O’Keeffe and the study and interpretation of American Modernism opened on 17 July 1997, eleven years after the artist’s death The Museum building was designed by architect Richard Gluckman in association with Santa Fe firm Allegretti Architects.
TURN LEFT ON PALACE AVENUE.
La Tules Gambling House
142 West Palace Avenue
This site was the province of Doña Maria Gertrudis Barcelo whose legendary card-handling and dealing Monte earned her the undisputed reputation as the Gambling Queen of Santa Fe. By 1835 she was running the popular gaming establishment La Tules, entertaining Santa Fe’s social and military elite. She cast her lot with the Americans during the conflict with the Mexicans in 1846, helping speed New Mexico to territorial status. She died in 1852 and it was said $1,000 was spent on the candles alone for her lavish funeral. A treasure was rumored to exist buried somewhere in the desert as well.
Felipe B. Delgado House
124 West Palace Avenue
Prosperous merchant Felipe B. Delgado, grandson of Captain Manuel Delgado, who established the family in New Mexico in 1778, constructed this house around 1890. The second story wooden balcony and stone basement were novelties in town. Eminent architect John Gaw Meem bought the house from the Delgado family in 1970 and eventually donated the property to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.
northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Palace Avenue
Salomon Spitz, a German merchant, installed a non-working clock in front of his new jewelry store in 1881 to promote his wares. By 1900 Spitz had done well enough to replace it with a working clock. That clock was clobbered by one of Santa Fe’s earliest motorists. In the 1960s the store was closed and Bernard Spitz passed the winding key to the mayor of Santa Fe and the new town clock was relocated here in 1974. To maintain perfect time a city workman had to climb a ladder to get to the clockworks once a week. The works have been re-located to the base and the clock is still wound every five days.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT ON THE PLAZA.