Spanish Houses of New Mexico History

by THAT Painter Lady

The Spanish houses of New Mexico vary from their prototypes in
Mexico and Spain more than any other of the Spanish Colonial types.

When the Spaniards conquered New Mexico they found a sedentary
Indian population, already living in cities, who had developed an appropriate native architecture.

Therefore, when the conquistadors employed the native artisans to build houses, there resulted a new type of house,
half-Spanish, half- Indian, entirely unlike anything developed in other
Spanish colonies.

The New Mexican houses, while typically Spanish in plan, were just as
typically Indian in mass and outline. The general forms resemble the
terraced Pueblo Indian houses, building up into picturesque, natural

Spanish Houses
photo credit: puroticorico

But while the pure Pueblo houses were terraced to several floors,
the New Mexican Spanish types remained uniformly low and never ex
ceeded two stories.

The great charm of this type is found in the interesting
way in which it reflects the natural geologic forms of its environment, its
almost invariably good proportions, and its picturesque flowing lines.

The "flowing" quality of line which asserts itself not only in the elevations
but also in the plans of the older New Mexican types probably came about
through the Indian's appreciation of nature's disregard for right

He therefore shows no respect for them nor for mathematical right
angles. Thus his plans, as well as his masses, show many pleasant little
inexactnesses which impart to the house a quality of life that no mathe
matically accurate structure can possibly have.

There is a human friendliness in these houses, the rounded and softened lines of which were stroked into place by the bare palms of the Indian masons who were called in to execute the Spanish Houses of New Mexico.

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