Hi­no­jos House be­ing re­mod­eled

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - CONTENT - By Paul Wei­de­man

ON MARCH 22, SANTA FE’S HIS­TORIC DIS­TRICTS RE­VIEW BOARD GAVE A FI­NAL OK to John Wolf ’s restora­tion plans for the Fran­cisca Hi­no­jos House. The his­toric adobe build­ing on East Palace Av­enue was se­verely dam­aged by a fire, and un­for­tu­nately also by fire­fight­ers’ high-pres­sure wa­ter hoses, in early Fe­bru­ary 2013. Af­ter sit­ting open to the weather for more than two years, it is rather amaz­ing that the hulk was still sal­vage­able, but Wolf is en­thu­si­as­ti­cally an­tic­i­pat­ing the end re­sult.

“Today we’re jack­ing up that whole front bay win­dow and restor­ing that area and we got all the lead paint off. We are do­ing beau­ti­ful things. My wife is so ex­cited about liv­ing here,” the well-known lo­cal con­trac­tor said on March 8. “I think that Santa Fe needs a story of re­vi­tal­iza­tion and breath­ing life into the dead. Be­cause that build­ing was to­tally dead, man. The amount of de­struc­tion was cat­a­strophic.”

The house was the vic­tim of an ar­son­ist, al­though no ar­rest has yet been made.

The Hi­no­jos House was de­signed and con­structed by itin­er­ant French ar­ti­sans who were brought here from Louisiana by Arch­bishop Jean-Bap­tiste Lamy to build the Cathe­dral of St. Fran­cis of As­sisi, ac­cord­ing to Old Santa Fe Today. Al­though con­structed of adobe in typ­i­cal early Santa Fe fash­ion, its ex­te­rior de­sign is rem­i­nis­cent of Louisiana’s ar­chi­tec­ture dur­ing French oc­cu­pa­tion.

The dis­tinc­tive el­e­ments were a terne-plate roof, a won­der­ful bay win­dow that was for­tu­nately un­touched by the fire, and a wealth of white-painted wood­work, in­clud­ing the ped­i­mented doors and win­dows, a wrap-around portál with carved balustrade, and the bay win­dow un­der a pro­ject­ing cor­nice with brack­ets and mod­il­lions.

The fire claimed much of the inside wood and fur­nish­ings. “The trim of the in­te­rior doors, win­dows, and Ter­ri­to­rial fire­places,” as de­scribed in the book Old Santa Fe Today, “typ­i­fies the pe­riod when crafts­men ex­celled in im­i­tat­ing such grained woods as ma­hogany, oak, and bird’s-eye maple, in this case on wood­work of na­tive pine.”

The prop­erty was ac­quired at in­ter­vals be­tween 1856 and 1872 by Doña Fran­cisca Hi­no­jos. In 1887, she be­queathed it to her son, Don Al­fredo Hi­no­jos, a prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal fig­ure, who was the or­gan­ist at the cathe­dral for al­most 50 years. Lois Field bought the house in the late 1940s and worked with artist/builder Agnes Sims on a ren­o­va­tion and re­model. Be­fore its pur­chase in late 2015 by John and Mary­beth Wolf, the prop­erty was held by a trust set up by Field’s mother, Martha Field, and man­aged by First Na­tional Bank. (Wil­liam Magee “Bill” Field, Martha’s grand­son and a Santa Fe Liv­ing Treasure, had one of the of­fices that the blaze de­stroyed in the house.)

The Hi­no­jos House is plaqued by the His­toric Santa Fe Foun­da­tion and is on the State Regis­ter of Cul­tural Prop­er­ties. In the city, it is clas­si­fied as an im­por­tant “con­tribut­ing struc­ture” in the his­toric dis­trict. The ca­sita, which was the kitchen for the Hi­no­jos res­i­dence, and the garage also have “con­tribut­ing” sta­tus; they were not harmed by the fire.

Be­cause the city prizes build­ings in the down­town-area his­toric dis­trict, al­most ev­ery change pro­posed by own­ers must be ap­proved by the His­toric Dis­tricts Re­view Board (the “H-Board” col­lo­qui­ally). A few months af­ter the fire, the Field trust was granted ap­provals to stock­pile ex­tant his­toric ma­te­ri­als at the Hi­no­jos prop­erty for re­use, to shore up the dam­aged struc­ture, and sub­se­quently to fully re­store the build­ing.

But it wasn’t that sim­ple. A year ago, Bill Field told The New Mex­i­can that the in­surance set­tle­ment was not enough for

the own­ers to re­store the house. And on April 28, 2015, the H-Board had to rule on a mo­tion by First Na­tional Bank of Santa Fe to de­mol­ish it. One of the most dra­matic state­ments heard by the board that night came from en­gi­neer Wil­liam Druc, who was hired by the trust af­ter the fire. “This build­ing was the scene of a crime— there was an arson there,” Druc said. “And I hope there is not an­other crime here tonight by vot­ing to de­mol­ish that build­ing.”

The H-Board unan­i­mously re­jected the re­quest for de­mo­li­tion.

Look­ing at the is­sues Preser­va­tion­ists were re­lieved to hear that the house would be re­stored, al­though some have been ner­vous about some of the de­tails of the project. Wasn’t some of the orig­i­nal portál sal­vage­able? What about that dis­tinc­tive roof? And what about the other bay win­dow that was on the house’s east side?

Catherine Fletcher-Leriche, the ar­chi­tect work­ing with Wolf, wrote in a let­ter to the board that 65 to 75 per­cent of the porch struc­ture was miss­ing on the west side, and most on the south (front) suf­fered ex­ten­sive fire dam­age. The dam­age by both fire and fire­fight­ers to the area of the east bay win­dow [which was in any case prob­a­bly a non-his­toric late ad­di­tion to the house] was also se­vere. She added that “not a sin­gle full-length [metal roof] panel re­mained since the ridge of the build­ing was opened up to help fight the fire.”

In a March 22 in­ter­view, Leriche said, “When you are restor­ing a build­ing, there’s a line in the code that says if it’s more than 30 per­cent de­stroyed, you can re­place it. That’s a very dif­fi­cult mea­sure­ment. If you look at the whole portál, I’d say less than 30 per­cent was sal­vage­able, but if you look at the in­di­vid­ual pieces, such as the balustrades, there were cer­tainly some that were sal­vage­able and some of them have been saved. We have the fram­ing for the win­dows and some fram­ing from the doors that have been doc­u­mented and drawn. And fromthe portál we have pic­tures and a post and ex­am­ples of balustrades that will be re­built in kind.”

Re­plac­ing the terne roof with a sim­i­lar ma­te­rial is al­most im­pos­si­ble. Terne roofs were made of steel sheets that had been dipped in a lead/tin (and later zinc/tin) al­loy. The His­toric Santa Fe Foun­da­tion found a com­pany in West Vir­ginia that was still pro­duc­ing terne sheets for its 2011 roof project on the Felipe Del­gado House, but that com­pany no longer has the prod­uct. The ma­te­rial is still avail­able in Mex­ico, ac­cord­ing to David Rasch, the city’s his­toric preser­va­tion of­fi­cer.

Wolf, who found “pud­dles of lead the size of 5-gal­lon buck­ets on the ground from the fire,” said, “There is still a process we could go through, but this is not a fed­eral pork-belly restora­tion. I have lim­ited funds. The height of my seams will be the same size and I will paint it red when I’m done, so it will look sim­i­lar.”

His crews were re­build­ing walls with new adobe bricks and us­ing ce­ment mor­tar. “We have to, be­cause it’s not warm enough to lay down mud mor­tar,” Wolf said. “I like to lay in mud, but it’s so cold at night that it doesn’t cure.” Asked about the rule that you’re not sup­posed to mix earthen and ce­ment ma­te­ri­als, he replied, “I’ve done it a thou­sand times. It’s fine, it re­ally is.”

Mov­ing ahead On March 22, the whole project passed of­fi­cial muster. “The H-Board granted Wolf the ex­cep­tion to re­move his­toric ma­te­rial with the un­der­stand­ing that he’s go­ing to re­place it all in kind,” Rasch said. “That project is now ba­si­cally ready to go.”

In the sec­ond week of March, Wolf ’s work­ers were busy sta­bi­liz­ing the ex­tant adobe walls. “These walls and foun­da­tions were sprayed di­rectly by fire hoses. We’re try­ing to get things sta­bi­lized and we’re try­ing to get a con­tin­u­ous bond beam run across the top to try to stiffen those walls up. Once I get the sec­ond-story floor down, which will be the roof of the first floor, that will tie those down­stairs walls to­gether.

That’s crit­i­cal. We have to keep knitting this build­ing back to­gether.”

Wolf was en­thu­si­as­tic about the fact that he had sal­vaged burnt lum­ber from the roof joists and was hav­ing it re-milled to use on the restora­tion win­dow trim, stairs, and cab­i­nets.

At the site on March 10, he pointed to the garage’s sim­ple ped­i­ments, which con­trast with the more com­plex carved ped­i­ments from the house. “In 1950, Lois Field hired Agnes Sims to do a ren­o­va­tion, and they tick­led it up. They added fire­places and fancy wood­work and put in a wood floor. This was a very hum­ble house with hum­ble fed­eral ped­i­ment de­tails, as sweet as it could be. Itwas just four rooms. They broke it up into about 10 lit­tle rooms. I’m go­ing back to four big rooms.”

Richard Romero, who has been with Wolf Cor­po­ra­tion for 15 years, was work­ing on the inside of the front bay el­e­ment, which had al­ready been stripped of its lead­based paint. He was adding pieces of the sal­vaged old-growth wood fromthe joists into chinks of the bay’s lime­stone-block foun­da­tion, plumb­ing and lev­el­ing it.

Twelve days later, Wolf was ir­ri­tated that the project had to go be­fore the H-Board that evening, but his en­thu­si­asm was still ob­vi­ous. “We have poured the bond beam. Those three or four back­bones are done, so I’ve sta­bi­lized the top of the walls. Now I’m go­ing to sta­bi­lize at the base the next two weeks, then you’re go­ing to see the fram­ing go up.”

Where is he get­ting the money for all this work? “It’s self-gen­er­ated,” said. “It’s lean and mean and I’m putting my heart and soul into it. This is go­ing to be an awe­some build­ing.”

An ar­chi­tec­tural ren­der­ing shows the wrought-iron fence to be built near the front of the prop­erty

A Wolf Cor­po­ra­tion em­ployee works on the front bay win­dow


The Fran­cisca Hi­no­jos House in 2011. Right, John Wolf at the front door of the burned struc­ture in March

The west side of the Hi­no­jos House be­ing re­stored af­ter a Fe­bru­ary 2013 fire

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