Taos Architecture Tour: Heading West on Don Fernando to Padre Martinez Lane

(past Blue Trail Sites 4, 5, 8)

So as you pass by the new Guadalupe Church, look south to the parking lot across Don Fernando. That's where the old Guadalupe Church was, and underneath that parking lot are supposedly still graves of some of the old church's parishioners. I think that's kindof amazing. (and a little freaky. I can't stop myself from imagining souls rising up from the parking lot every year at All Souls'  / Day of the Dead and passing through cars...)

The little shops on the south side along Dona Luz were once part of the support structure of the church. Here, women made candles, linens, tapestries, vestments... anything the old church needed. After those items started being shipped in and their services no longer needed, these buildings were used for much different purposes... including homes, shops, meeting houses... and according to legend, even speakeasys and brothels. ; ) I just love the look of these old buildings, and the way that Melissa Serfling of RedCat has livened up their little landscapes. It's a precious little piece of Taos right there.

Heading South on Padre Martinez Lane,we see the Taos Territorial on the west. That building is SO cute. It's also a totally reimagined ("disneyfied") version of the simple but beautiful 1870's Territorial it once was. It makes great photos though so be sure to get some! One of the cooler (punny!) aspects of Territorial style is revealed here. There's a central hallway on this house. The Hispanic and Pueblo settlers of this area didn't make spaces to be wasted as pass thrus and reception areas. Their rooms all connected and served a purpose. American settlers, however, tried to implement sort of a"dog trot" in their early New architecture, to increase breezes. This is one place that this central Territorial style hallway still exists today and is celebrated.

I used to live in the convento of the Padre Martinez House, which is the front part of a courtyard drive of attached houses just south of the Territorial and just north of the Padre Martinez House. It's a very sweet little spot to live and I tell everyone who comes to Taos with the idea of living here to try living in town for a bit. It's really special. You can't believe how quiet it can be for a town of it's size.

Just south of the Padre Martinez House (Taos Blue Trail Site #8) is a one story apartment complex called Los Guadalupes (though its not really marked) that seems rather nondescript. But there's something really special about this place. Besides that some of the residents have extraordinarily beautiful little "sitting areas" out on the courtyard when they are in town, this building is a modernish adaptation of a very important architectural style in New Mexico, and the New World. It's called a hacienda. Once upon a time, a hacienda courtyard like this would have started as a one or two room house, just like the ones at the convento I pointed out a few steps back. They would have added rooms with each member of the family, until the house made a square. The enclosed courtyard would have had a well, and livestock would have been brought in for the night to keep it safe from human and animal predators. The entrance to this courtyard would have had a gate on each end. This pass-thru is called a zaguan, and its a very characteristic feature of Spanish architectural influence. There are some in the historic district, as well as one at La Meze Restaurant and two at Martinez Hacienda. But if you are walking around town, you can see four of them, including this one, in public buildings. Each has it's own special style and I love all of them.

At the end of Padre Martinez Lane is my favorite old building in Taos. Not because it is the most beautiful, but because it looks like it should. It's called the Trujillo House and it dates from 1840. Imagine lots of these houses connected together, and THIS is what Taos used to look like. The interior is great too. Be sure to go in and check out the great stores in there and take it in! In front and to the east of this is one of the last intact boardwalks in Taos. Walk down it a little way. Imagine yourself walking back in time! Then head west to Ledoux and turn south for the next part of the tour. ; )