Palace re­con­struc­tion work com­pleted

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Wei­de­man

he usual size and func­tion of a “truth win­dow”— which is typ­i­cally a small rec­tan­gle on an out­side wall that is left un­plas­tered so peo­ple can view the adobe, straw­bale, or other con­struc­tion ma­te­rial— is greatly ex­panded on one wall at the Palace of the Gover­nors. In this case, the truth win­dow is ap­prox­i­mately six feet square and not only re­veals the adobe brick wall but also the lime­stone foun­da­tion. And in the wall is an ac­tual win­dow sim­i­larly un­fin­ished to show how it was set into the adobes be­neath a wooden lin­tel.

The huge truth win­dow was the idea of Palace of the Gover­nors/New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum direc­tor An­drew Wulf. “This is my tiny con­tri­bu­tion. I think it’s beau­ti­ful,” he said dur­ing a Sep­tem­ber tour of the Palace placita (court­yard), where a ma­jor wall-restora­tion project was re­cently com­pleted. The in­ter­est­ing rec­tan­gle of naked adobes is on the out­side west wall of an old stor­age room that was built at the rear of the 1930 li­brary (now the mu­seum gift shop) fac­ing onWash­ing­ton Av­enue.

The main Palace struc­ture, built in the sec­ond decade of the 17th cen­tury, is fa­mous as the na­tion’s oldest pub­lic build­ing in con­ti­nous use, but ar­chae­ol­o­gist Stephen Post said this par­tic­u­lar wall dates to a 1935 project by the Fed­eral Emer­gency Re­lief Ad­min­is­tra­tion. “This build­ing is an­other story in the Palace,” Post said. “The li­brary was also a fed­eral project. This court­yard project re­vived our knowl­edge of the fact that theNewDeal is em­bed­ded in the Palace.”

Wulf said the for­mer li­brary stor­age room is now be­ing ren­o­vated to serve as a gallery for dis­play of the Segesser hide paint­ings. The trea­sured paint­ings on stitched bi­son hides are per­haps three cen­turies old and may il­lus­trate mil­i­tary ex­pe­di­tions dis­patched from the Palace of the Gover­nors in early Span­ish-colo­nial times.

First known as the casas reales— the “royal houses” of the north­ern gov­ern­ment of New Spain— the Palace was much ex­panded for In­dian use dur­ing the Pue­blo Re­volt (1680-1693), then sub­stan­tially razed and re­built by the re­set­tled Span­ish un­der Don Diego de Var­gas. The col­ors fly­ing over the Palace of the Gover­nors changed to a Mex­i­can flag af­ter that coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence from Spain in 1821, then an Amer­i­can flag re­placed it af­ter the 1846 takeover by StephenWatts Kearny’s U.S. Army of theWest— and the Con­fed­er­ate States of Amer­ica flew its flag there for a few weeks in 1862, dur­ing the CivilWar.

For most of its first three cen­turies, the Palace was the seat of gov­ern­ment for 59 Span­ish gover­nors and 20 gover­nors of Amer­ica’s New Mex­ico Ter­ri­tory be­fore the con­struc­tion of ter­ri­to­rial, then state, capi­tol build­ings in Santa Fe in 1886, 1900, and 1966.

The Old Palace was des­ig­nated a Na­tional His­toric Land­mark in 1960 and a Na­tional Trea­sure in Jan­uary 2015. Af­ter the lat­ter des­ig­na­tion, the Na­tional Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion hired lob­by­ists to help the Palace se­cure up to $1.5 mil­lion from the state Leg­is­la­ture to pay for sta­bi­liz­ing and up­dat­ing the build­ing. “Last fall, we re­ceived $680,000

PHO­TOS BY PAUL WEI­DE­MAN

An­drew Wulf, New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum/Palace of the Gover­nors direc­tor, and project ar­chae­ol­o­gist Stephen Post in front of a very large “truth win­dow” at the Palace of the Gover­nors. Below, the court­yard sur­rounded by the Palace’s re­con­structed, lime-plas­tered walls in Sep­tem­ber.

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