The Historic Santa Fe Foundation

An organization whose mission is to own, preserve and protect
historic properties and resources of Santa Fe


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In the early twentieth century, artists and writers were attracted to Santa Fe's culture. Soon, they became involved in preserving and protecting that which made up Santa Fe's character--its physical presence. It was the subject of their paintings, the backdrop of their lives, where their legends were staged and it was worthy of protection.

The Historic Santa Fe Foundation is an organization that has thrived since those early preservation efforts. The Foundation, whose mission is to own, preserve and protect historic properties and resources of Santa Fe and its environs and to provide historic preservation education, owns eight properties in Santa Fe and holds preservation easements on three others.

The Historic Santa Fe Foundation's roots are old and deep. More than 400 members have joined together from Santa Fe and all parts of the country to stand proudly for and to celebrate the preservation of Santa Fe's past. It's their hope that when you get to know them, and what they work to accomplish, that you'll join the Foundation community. Perhaps you live in our beloved city and can take advantage of the yearly Historic House Tour and festive Annual Garden Party, marked by the gathering of old friends and new in one historic location or another, while music plays and breezes tickle the nose with the dust of history. Or maybe you live far away, holding Santa Fe in your heart and keeping in touch through the Foundation newsletters and Bulletins. Either way, your membership donation of $25.00 or more per year will help keep Santa Fe history alive and will keep you involved with this vital organization.

The Foundation's Registry program recognizes significant properties by posting this bronze plaque. Here a painter creates hand-painted bricks required to recreate the original 'brick' finish uncovered during a restoration program.

The group takes their role as guardian of historic properties seriously. One of the properties, the Oliver P. Hovey House at 136 Grant Avenue, is a great example. The Foundation acquired the house in 1974, saving it from demolition. During the restoration it was discovered that the house was once plastered and then painted to appear to be brick. It was constructed around 1858 before brick was available in Santa Fe. Only the Foundation would have had the respect and determination to restore the finish which required a team of painters to recreate the "brick" finish.

Foundation-owned properties serve as models for the preservation of other historic buildings. Its first property, El Zaguán on Canyon Road, is a residence for artists and writers in the tradition begun by Margretta Dietrich and her sister, muralist Dorothy Stewart. El Zaguán is a place where, through the years, many well-known artists or their spouses have lived.

El Zaguán at 545 Canyon Road (1917)
In a photo by Anna L. Hase
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico, Neg 15307


El Zaguán at 545 Canyon Road Today

The Historic Santa Fe Foundation is also the caretaker of historic landscapes surrounding its properties. The garden at El Zaguán is open to the public Monday through Saturday, 9 am until 5 pm and is a wonderful respite for gallery strollers on Canyon Road. Our gardens emphasize the use of drought-tolerant native plants and employs water retention measures such as the use of mulches and soil enhancements. They also use rainwater harvesting systems. Like all southwest gardens, the Foundation gardens have suffered during recent droughts and arranged for water transportation to where it's been most needed. In a wonderful show of community, local residents and merchants have donated water and new replacement plantings for those which were lost.

The Foundation also employs a relatively new preservation tool--the Historic Preservation Easement. These Easements are legal agreements that give the easement holder, in this case the Foundation, a responsibility to protect the defining character and structural integrity of a particular historic structure, even though that structure is actually owned by another person. Often there are tax advantages to the property owners who donate these easements.

The Foundation's education goals are to establish increased appreciation for Santa Fe's historic resources. They do so through research, publications and programs. For many years, their publications have provided one of the most consistent historical resources on Santa Fe properties. They also maintain a Registry program, which recognizes significant properties (distinguished with the Foundation shield-shaped bronze plaque).

To expand their work the Foundation is developing new resources. This will allow them to protect and maintain Foundation-owned properties and to acquire or assist in the preservation of other threatened properties. And that's where new members come in again. Through your participation, generosity and contributions, the Historic Santa Fe Foundation can and will strengthen its ability to raise money, establish an endowment fund and seek private and corporate support for future projects.

What the Historic Santa Fe Foundation offers is something you can't hang in your home; it's an impression that holds onto your heart and a sense of belonging to a community. Santa Fe does something for your soul. The Foundation's goal is to protect that legacy for your grandchildren to enjoy.

The community lives on in its members—a community that welcomes your support. Call the Historic Santa Fe Foundation at 505-983-2567, visit the website at remote or stop by the offices at 545 Canyon Road.

Foundation-owned Properties
The James L. Johnson House/El Zaguán • 545 Canyon Rd
The Roque Tudesqui House • 129-135 East de Vargas St
The Oliver P. Hovey House • 136 Grant Avenue
Felipe B. Delgado House • 124 West Palace Avenue
The Cross of the Martyrs • Paseo de la Loma
The Donaciano Vigil House • 518 Alto Street
The Garcia House • 524 Alto Street
The Rivera House • 524 Alto Street

Protected through Historic Preservation Easements
The Original Trading Post • 201 West San Francisco
The Irene von Horvath House • 728 Canyon Road
The Sarah Melton House • 601 Paseo de Peralta

Originally appeared in
The Collector’s Guide to Santa Fe and Taos - Volume 18

Related Pages

About Santa Fe article
An Arts Chronology 1879-1990 article
A City Made for Walking article
Cornerstones: Rebuilding Traditions article

Favorite Places in Santa Fe article
How it Began: The Santa Fe and Taos Arts Communities article
Santa Fe: Knowing What to Expect article

Collector’s Resources

Santa Fe

Greenberg Fine Art | 505-955-1500


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