New, leaner HSFF selling its houses
The Historic Santa Fe Foundation, founded in 1961 in reaction to the destruction of the 19th-century adobe Nusbaum House to create a parking lot, purchased its first historic building in 1974. Over the next three decades, the foundation bought six more in line with its mission “to own, preserve and protect historic properties and resources of Santa Fe and environs and to provide historic preservation education.”
But since 2014, four of its seven buildings have been sold and the HSFF mission was altered to read, “Our mission is to preserve, protect and promote the historic properties and diverse cultural heritage of the Santa Fe area, and to educate the public about Santa Fe’s history and the importance of preservation.”
The organization intends to maintain ownership of the Canyon Road building known as El Zaguan (aka the James L. Johnson House), which holds its headquarters as well as five apartments it rents to artists andwriters. But its remaining two buildings, the Felipe B. Delgado House and the Roque Tudesqui House, are on the market.
PeteWarzel, executive director of the foundation, said ownership of the seven properties “became a true burden” after the 2008 financial crash. “In 2015, we spent approximately $220,000 in repairs, 2016 was approximately $125,000, and 2017 was $131,000, on all properties.” The budget became much more of a concern with the vacancy of the Delgado House.
Except for two relatively short periods when it was rented to two art galleries, the late-19th-centuryWest Palace Avenue house with the lovely second-floor balcony porch (decorated with a modillion cornice and Italianate brackets) has been vacant since 2012. At that time, it was vacated by First National Bank of Santa Fe, which had rented the building for more than 30 years.
That rental money— about $8,000 a month— was a significant part of the HSFF revenue budget. Earlier this year, the Oliver P. Hovey House on Grant Avenue lost its longtime tenant. The subtraction of rental revenues, as well as rising costs of taxes, insurance, and maintenance amounted to a situation that was described by a foundation board member with some understatement: “Our financial model is no longer sustainable.”
Warzel pointed out that this anxiety over foundation finances is nothing new. In 1982, the Historic Santa Fe Foundation’s Jim Adler wrote about the “great responsibilities, decisions and commitments in time, money, and effort” resulting from the ownership of what was then just three historic houses. The board, he said, “will soon have to address the question of whether or not the overall purpose of the Foundation and, indeed, of historic preservation itself, can best be served by continuing to own and maintain all three properties.”
In October, bothWarzel and board of directors chairman Alan “Mac” Watson emphasized that the HSFF decision to divest itself of properties was made to strengthen both the impact and the reach of theHistoric Santa Fe Foundation.
Two of the sold properties were the CharlotteWhite/ Boris Gilbertson House (previously known as the Donaciano Vigil House) and the adjoining Garcia House on Alto Street. Warzel said these, and now also the Hovey House “have new owners who are serious stewards of the properties, supportive of the easements and working with us on any renovations they want to do on the buildings.” He added that the proceeds from sales of HSFF properties are being invested and the earnings will be focused on the preservation and restoration of historic architecture and on the group’s education and outreach program.
The foundation will continue its more than a dozen initiatives, including the Faith and John Gaw Meem Preservation Trades Internship; the historic-preservation easement program; the annual Heritage Preservation Awards that it co-sponsors with the City of Santa Fe Historic Preservation Division and the Old Santa Fe Association; and the Register of ResourcesWorthy of Preservation plaque program.
The register was the first program established by HSFF at its founding and today it includes 99 buildings and cultural landscapes. Among them are the Acequia Madre; the 18th-century Gregorio Crespín House, Arthur Boyle House, and “Oldest House”; the Manderfield Mausoleum; the Olive Rush Studio; Saint Catherine Indian School; and Jail House Ranch in Nambé.
“We are about to start a second phase of our planning at the board, looking at our wish list, putting financials to each, and prioritizing as to implementation,” Warzel said. One of the goals is a new collaboration with the University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning and the StateHistoric Preservation Office to hire graduate students to do research and write nominations for additions to the Register of Resources Worthy of Preservation.
For more information about the Historic Santa Fe Foundation and memberships, see www.historicsantafe. org or call 505-983-2567
The Pinckney R. Tully House (now known as the Oliver P. Hovey House) was the first to be purchased by the Historic Santa Fe Foundation, back in 1974. It is shown here before restoration of the (historically correct) faux-brick paint job and (below) the south wall adobes before plastering and painting, both in the late 1970s