The Whole Project
by Rebecca Ward
Updates on the Project as a Whole
Welcome back to the Preservation Blog! With the Historic Site open to the public again we have been busy with visitors, animal care, and general site maintenance. So, this blog fell onto my backburner for a bit. In the meantime, we have been getting ready for spring and summer here. Running acequias to get the alfalfa started growing and soaking up the warm weather in between windy weather. In addition, Spring is a wonderful time to come to the site. The apple blossoms in the orchard have pretty much opened up fully!
The Hacienda Project has been making slow but steady progress, which in a preservation grant is what you want. Quick decisions are not usually a good idea when a structure is stable. Right now, we have contractors visiting the site to give bids on the scope of work for the Hacienda that we have put together. With COVID still ongoing this takes time. The maximum visitation capacity on the Hacienda is 5 people at a time right now and some of the contractor firms are from outside of the Northern New Mexico region. So, contractors may have to spend time traveling to the site and we have them visit one at a time to limit non-household contact between people while they are on the property. Each contractor is from a list of National Park Service approved companies that have experience with preservation work and with historic structures. The contractors must take time to read our scope of work, visit the site to make their own assessment, and meet with not only the site manager of Los Luceros but also other state employees who will help make the decision on which contractor we are going accept a contract from.
Where are we with the doors?
During this time Rae Beaubien, our conservator, has put together her complete assessment of the decorative doors that were highlighted in my last two posts. Below this paragraph you can see her personal drawings of each door with highlighted sections that indicate more recent work. Rae has not been able to remove the doors yet but that is the next step in the process now that the initial assessment and plans have been officially submitted. I am not able to share her full report yet because some aspects of work on the doors is yet to be determined. And as with all conservation and preservation work, sometimes plans change. Even in regular construction and renovation work you may open a wall and discover things were not what you expected them to be from the outside.
Tree Ring Dating in the Hacienda
Finally, during the last couple of weeks we have had Tom Windes visit to begin an assessment on the wood that is visible in the house. Mr. Windes is an expert in dating ancient wood. He has completed decades of work in dendrochronology (the study of tree ring dating) labs across the Southwestern United States. The wood samples he will be taking are primarily in the vigas of the roof on the first and second stories. We are hoping that during this project we will get more concrete dates for the Hacienda. The oldest dendrochronology date that we have puts the construction of the house around 1775 but historic reports indicate that the original construction date may be much earlier. We are hoping that Mr. Windes will be able to identify older dates in a more accurate manner. Sections of the Hacienda could date back to before Spanish arrival in this area (1598 marked the arrival of Onate at Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo). We believe from earlier reports on the house that the room that is now the pantry is the oldest part of the house and was likely a field house for nearby Phiogeh Pueblo. Confirming this would be wonderful for getting a more complete understanding of the history of the site and the house.
I am not sure what my next post will be about. I could be announcing who has been given the contact for the plaster replacement on the Hacienda or I could be given permission to share the bulk of Rae’s report by then! There is plenty to report on and so much to be done that I am not sure what my next update will be on. See you then and if you are in or around Alcalde, New Mexico please stop by to see the site! Los Luceros is magical at any time of the year but spring ushers in a verdant, vibrant landscape that lasts for about 5 months before the fall colors begin to set in.
Originally published on April 30, 2021 as part of the Adobe Speaks series.