Mil­li­cent Rogers’ Taos home avail­able

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - AUTHENTICALLY DESIGNED - By Paul Wei­de­man

TUR­TLE WALK, THE 72-ACRE MIL­LI­CENT ROGERS ES­TATE IN TAOS, IS ON THE MAR­KET. The bu­colic prop­erty— lo­cated near the his­toric Mar­tinez Hacienda— was home to the heiress and fashion icon for the last five years of her life.

Rogers (1902-1953) came to Taos on the re­bound from a failed ro­mance with ac­tor Clark Gable. Heiress to the Stan­dard Oil for­tune, she was mar­ried three times dur­ing her 20s and 30s. In 1924, she eloped with Count Lud­wig Salm Von Hooges­traten of Vi­enna. The Salms were divorced three years later and she wed Ar­gen­tine sports­man Ar­turo Per­alto-Ramos. That mar­riage ended in Reno in 1935. Fi­nally, she was mar­ried to Ron­ald Bal­com, an Amer­i­can stock­bro­ker, from 1936 to 1941.

Rogers first came to New Mex­ico in 1947 with ac­tress Janet Gaynor and her cos­tume-de­signer hus­band Adrian. The 2012 book Mil­li­cent Rogers: A Life in Full says they took the train from Los An­ge­les to Lamy and then mo­tored through Santa Fe and on to the Po­joaque ranch of sculp­tor Alan Clark. She­was soon lunch­ing at the Taos home of Ma­bel Dodge Luhan.

The heiress was fas­ci­nated by New Mex­ico. In Au­gust 1948, af­ter camp­ing for two days in Ji­car­illa Apache coun­try, wit­ness­ing a round dance and a foot race at close range, she wrote to a friend, “In Rome, in Paris, in the East I have seen strange lovely things that ex­cited and de­lighted, me, but never, never any­thing which reached down in­side and be­longed to me as that camp did through every minute of the time spent there.”

She pur­chased an old four-room adobe on Lower Ran­chi­tos and set to ex­pand­ing and out­fit­ting it. Some of the fur­nish­ings at Tur­tle Walk date to the early 1930s, when she and Per­alta-Ramos lived in St. An­ton, Aus­tria, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle ti­tled “The In­spir­ing Style of Mil­li­cent Rogers” in the April 2014 is­sue of Ar­chi­tec­tural Di­gest. Be­sides the Navajo rugs and the rus­tic doors and win­dows that she loved col­lect­ing in North­ern New Mex­ico are her Bie­der­meier chairs, opa­line lamps, crests on the garage and front gate that come from a Medici palace, and a mas­sive bath­tub.

This mar­ble tub came from Florence and dates to 25 A.D., ac­cord­ing to A Life in Full. Af­ter Rogers had it brought to Taos, she de­cided she did not want it in the house. It sat out­side for nearly half a cen­tury un­til her daugh­ter-in-law, Jacqueline Blan­chard “Jackie” Per­alta-Ramos, had it put in a guest bath­room.

Af­ter suf­fer­ing from rheumatic fever as a child, Rogers was of­ten ill; she died a month be­fore her 51st birthday. Her col­lec­tion of more than 600 pieces of In­dian turquoise and sil­ver jew­elry, pot­tery, tex­tiles, His­panic arts and crafts, and other items is held by the Mil­li­cent Rogers Mu­seum in nearby El Prado. The mu­seum was es­tab­lished in 1956 by her son Paul Per­alta-Ramos, who de­voted him­self to ex­pand­ing her col­lec­tion with Na­tive Amer­i­can, His­panic and An­glo arts from the Amer­i­can South­west.

The house still holds Rogers’ ex­ten­sive li­brary of books. Her home is like a mu­seum, ar­chi­tec­turally, fea­tur­ing very thick walls with ban­cos and other flow­ing shapes, var­i­ous sorts of door­ways, some with old doors that are two inches thick, and lots of painted details. Artist Dorothy Brett was a good friend and, while Rogers painstak­ingly mixed paints on the floor of the li­brary, she painted col­or­ful tribal mo­tifs on the beams above.

Taos Pue­blo artist Trinidad Archuleta painted fres­cos in the large, cen­tral court­yard, which boasts an old weep­ing wil­low in its cen­ter.

The prop­erty in­cludes a main house of 7,020 square feet, a guest house of 1,275 square feet, a stu­dio of 1,584 square feet, and sev­eral out­build­ings.

“There was an ex­ist­ing, orig­i­nal struc­ture but we don’t know where it is now in this house,” said Re­al­tor David Fries. “Mil­li­cent did a lot of con­struc­tion. Ev­ery­thing is adobe. It’s like a lit­tle city. They have their own nurs­ery where they lit­er­ally grow from seed the flow­ers they then put out ev­ery­where. There are at least four full-time staffers.”

The prop­erty is still in the fam­ily. “It was left to Mil­li­cent’s son, Ar­turo [Per­alta-Ramos Jr.], and his wife, Jackie,” Fries said. “Ar­turo passed in De­cem­ber and Jackie is still res­i­dent here and is sell­ing.” Among the other in­ter­est­ing details are the li­brary’s deep-set point- ed-arch win­dows and a floor made up of tree-trunk sec­tions set in sealed earth; another floor of large rec­tan­gu­lar con­crete “tiles” with wooden di­viders; plas­ter and latilla ceil­ings with vi­gas and beams; the master bed­room’s large, hor­i­zon­tal win­dow designed to cap­ture the ex­panse of Taos Moun­tain; and an out­door swim­ming pool of or­ganic shape.

The out­side en­vi­ron­ment is ex­ten­sive. The build­ings are sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful, green fields and marshes with cat­tails and singing red-winged blackbirds. Trees are nour­ished by a flow­ing ace­quia and the par­cel ex­tends down to the Rio Lucero.

The Mil­li­cent Rogers home is listed by Jill Ben­jamin Blanken­ship, Aleka Moore, and David Fries, Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Realty, for $4.5 mil­lion.

Mil­li­cent Rogers from a fam­ily al­bum

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