Taos Style #4: Territorial and Northern New Mexico


The early efforts to introduce the ancient Grecian temple-influenced style to New Mexico were deeply affected by the existing architecture of the region, and her inhabitants propensity for ignoring trends of style. The resulting architectural form - a fusion of vernacular models and Greek-influenced parts and pieces - is called Territorial. In this period, wealth was not grandiose. Wealth was indicated by having good wool blankets and rugs, iron locks on the doors, and larger rooms.

Click here for a list of Territorial Architecture Traits

In Taos, the finest Territorial structures are: the “Taos Territorial” house on Padre Martinez and portions of what is now Antonio’s restaurant on Dona Luz Lane.

Places like Las Vegas, NM became highly Americanized, following Colonial and subsequent design styles with pitched roofs and fine shingle details, while Santa Fe and other more indigenous locales preferred dirt-covered flat roofs. Taosenos, and nearby localities, took to the evolution of the Territorial style with its pitched metal roof. It can be assumed that at least part of the cause for this was weather-related, as a pitched roof will shed snow. Because of the simplicity of architectural evolution that occurred here, when Territorial in other locations was getting quite decorative, the style of architecture that was prevalent in Northern New Mexico was deemed to be it's own style. These are pretty much everywhere in Taos.

Click here to see a list of traits of Northern New Mexico Vernacular Architecture

In Raton, a brand new town formed in 1879 without precedent structures, it was the Georgian or Colonial Revival that reigned supreme. Taos would feel no such impetus, bowing instead to her traditional forms. Later NM-ophiles borrowed from the past and then modified, using the floral and bird motifs found in early Spanish structures on glass painting at windows. Tin, which was not mined in NM and was therefore a bit of a luxury, was no longer reserved for churches... thus becoming staple in our decoration.