Architectural Feature: La Hacienda de los Martinez

2017 NMAF Award Winner
For important historic buildings or sites that have had a lasting effect
in bringing together our community.

This is a rare authentic and original structure from the Spanish Colonial period that figured prominently in the history of the Taos Valley and New Mexico in general and continues to celebrate the community’s early Spanish heritage.

The patriarch of the Martinez family, Don Antonio Severino Martinez, began creation of an extensive hacienda when he arrived in Taos around 1804. He prospered and eventually became the largest landholder in the Taos Valley region and served as the Alcalde of the town.

The hacienda residence began as a four room adobe structure and was expanded as he became more wealthy to the existing twenty-one room structure built around two inner placitas.  The residence served as a fortress during Indian attacks and, as such. there were no windows facing outward. Livestock could be herded into the courtyards for protection during attacks. Laborers and servants on the hacienda were largely made up of Navajo and Ute Indians.  The hacienda served as the northern terminus of the Spanish El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro trade route that came north out of Mexico City.  Martinez engaged in regular trips to trade with merchants in Chihuahua and later with American traders on the Santa Fe Trail.

The property remained in the Martinez family until 1931 and eventually fell into disrepair. Restoration began with new owners in the 1960s and the property was eventually acquired by the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation who finalized restoration of the property to its state in 1820.

Today, La Hacienda de los Martinez is a living museum owned and managed by Taos Historic Museums, a private 503(c) non-profit corporation. The hacienda is also on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Over 200 years old, the building serves as a local focal point and museum that displays furnishings and artifacts of the Spanish colonial frontier and it serves as the site of the annual Taos Trade Fair in September.

Photo credit: Ken Hartke

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