Four historic Hispano sites in San Luis Valley added to the National Register of Historic Places
Bronze plaques to be awarded on May 4 at Cinco de Mayo celebration
DENVER, Colo. (March 28, 2019) – The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and History Colorado, through an Underrepresented Communities Grant from the Historic Preservation Fund of the National Park Service, Department of Interior, have successfully submitted four properties in the San Luis Valley to the National Register of Historic Places in an effort to increase representation of Colorado’s historic Hispano communities in the register.
The Keeper of the National Register in Washington D.C. approved the submissions and officially listed the properties in December 2018. The four properties include: The Garcia Ranch Headquarters in Antonito, Colorado; Saint Joseph’s Church and Cemetery in Capulin, Colorado; the S.P.M.D.T.U. Lodge Hall in Chama, Colorado; and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Conejos, Colorado.
A bid for the research and preparation of National Register nominations for the four sites was awarded to Denver-based Front Range Research Associates, Inc. The team, consisting of researchers and an archaeologist, worked on site documentation, research, and writing the nominations for over a year. Each nomination is available upon request.
The García Ranch Headquarters includes the adobe house, garage, privy, granaries, adobe potato cellar, a grain bin, sheep sheds, approximately 51.1 acres of outlying hayfields, and archaeological resources throughout the site. The ranch is considered significant for its ethnic/Hispano heritage, agriculture, architecture and development from 1885 to 1968. Owner Reyes Garcia is a descendant of the original owner, José Victor Garcia.
Saint Joseph’s Church is associated with the Hispano families who emigrated from northern New Mexico to the San Luis Valley beginning in the 1840s and ‘50s. Built in 1912-13, St. Joseph’s also features distinctive architectural characteristics for its Gothic Revival stone construction and original stained glass windows. The architect for the church is unknown. The cemetery next to the church dates to an earlier adobe church building from 1871. The community, parishioners, and the Diocese were very supportive regarding the nomination and the research process.
The Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (S.P.M.D.T.U.) Lodge Hall in Chama, Colorado was built around 1920. The small adobe building was used as a lodge hall for the Hispano labor union from the time it was built until recently. The S.P.M.D.T.U. is still an active organization in Colorado and northern New Mexico. The organization was founded to provide mutual aid to its members by pooling their resources to assist one another in times of need.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in the small community of Conejos, though considered Colorado’s oldest Catholic parish, had not officially been listed in the National Register of Historic Places until now. The present building dates to 1927/48. After an 1863 adobe church in this location partially burned, the rear portion of the building was constructed and attached to twin adobe towers in 1926. Later in 1948 the façade and towers were redone in concrete brick. The stained glass windows were mostly likely crafted by Frank Watkins of the Watkins firm in Denver.
On May 4, these four properties will be presented with bronze plaques to commemorate their National Register listings by History Colorado at the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area’s annual Cinco de Mayo outside celebration on Main Street in Alamosa.
This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Historic Preservation Fund, National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.
About History Colorado
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving the places, stories and material culture of Colorado through museums, educational programs, historic preservation grants, research library, collections and outreach to Colorado communities. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.
About the National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic places worthy of preservation, managed by the National Park Service and administered for the state by History Colorado. Listings may include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects. Benefits to property owners for being listed include: formal recognition of the property’s significance and history, creation of a body of information that can be used for community planning, eligibility to obtain federal tax credits, eligibility to obtain state tax credits, eligibility to compete for grants. National Register listing does not impose restrictions on private property owners as to what they may or may not do with their property.
About Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area
The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SDCNHA), features thriving early Hispanic cultural traditions and practices, including language, architecture, and crafts. The National Heritage Area encompasses Alamosa, Costilla, and Conejos counties, comprising a large portion of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. SDCNHA’s mission is to “promote, preserve, protect, and interpret its profound historical, religious, environmental, geographic, geologic, cultural, and linguistic resources.” To see a list of sites in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area visit https://sdcnha.org/wp/our-heritage/