Taos Style #6: The Railroad and California's Gold Rush


The rails were bringing ideas from the Eastern AND Western states now, and the timing of the influx of Anglos was almost like an invasion of sorts – everything that represented the “Old Ways” or the “NM Style” was admonished. Beginning in the early 20th century, New Mexican architecture began to transform again. By the time of her acceptance into statehood in 1912, the Territorial period was literally… and figuratively… complete. Three trends emerged: One group of settlers went for the “all new,” merging new forms with old or replacing old forms entirely… another group of artists arrived from the Western art world and began building entirely new fusion homes of their own, like the impeccable Fechin House and studio by Nicolai Fechin on Paseo del Pueblo Norte… while yet another group started looking backwards to the “old way.”

Architectural firms like Greene and Greene in California were changing the way people looked at building, and inventing a wholly American style of architecture, much of which was a response to the what was seen as "overly decorative" architecture of the Victorian age, and blended with an Indian (as in the continent between the Orient and Europe) concept of a low structure with a veranda, called a Bungalow. The California and Bungalow styles - with their simple one-story plans, large porches, squared wooden beams, horizontal emphasis, and stone detailing - were very vogue in the West. When people came from California, they brought these ideas with them. Obviously, there weren’t many Californians living in or visiting Taos, as there is but one extant example of the Craftsman or Bungalow style in town, on Camino de la Placita. Nicolai Fechin borrowed bits and pieces of all the styles mentioned above, including the new California-influenced methodology, and merged them with woodcarving influences from his home country and ours, creating a style that defies a single attribution.