walls talking

March 03, 2024  •  4 Comments

Since the beginning of our existence on Planet Earth, humans have sought and developed the shelter they needed to stay alive and store necessities for that same purpose. The structures vary in construction, but most have one thing in common - walls.  Whether they are solid or flexible, walls provide safety from the elements and predators.  When Homo Sapiens had enough time and resources to embellish their surroundings, they did so. Perhaps it was a need to view something interesting on the inside of the walls, but decoration on both the interior and exterior came fairly early in our history.  It is not surprising that homes and buildings around the world have differing styles, types, and colors of finishes.  In every city, even one with fewer than 100,000 people, which is considered a "small" city like Santa Fe, the variety of walls and finishes is huge.  During the years of living in Santa Fe, I have heard people say something to the effect of "everything looks the same.  All seem to be the brown mud look.  How boring."  I beg to differ.

Walking through the Railyard and downtown areas, there is a wide variety of architectural adornment.  For example, the new dormitory at the New Mexico School for the Arts in the Railyard area has a combination of territorial style and art deco brick/tile parapets.  Generally, one or two layers of bricks are laid vertically, creating a sharp edging.  The Palace of the Governors and the Bataan Building are two examples of this style. But the School for the Arts has added two horizontal layers, giving the traditional design just a bit of an art deco look. 

Architecture - Santa Fe parapet treatment 1Architecture - Santa Fe parapet treatment 1


This multi-layered parapet treatment with red tile graduating into a double stacked territorial, is followed by connected diamonds, and finished with angled uprights on the face of the building at 271 West San Francisco, near the Lensic Theater.

Architecture - Santa Fe parapet treatment 2Architecture - Santa Fe parapet treatment 2


The shadow play of the architectural elements in the former Yoberri space, which now houses Henry and the Fish, definitely make the walls talk.

Architecture - Santa Fe papret treatmentArchitecture - Santa Fe papret treatment


The Lensic Theater, which is featured in the mosaic below created by youth artists from Fine Arts for Children and Teens (FACT) in 2003, reflects the pseudo-Moorish, Spanish Renaissance character of the building exterior.   The Lensic itself deserves a separate photo shoot and blog.   

Architecture - Santa Fe Lensic MosaicArchitecture - Santa Fe Lensic Mosaic

Demonstrating the fact that Santa Fe still carries some funk is Evaneglo's Cocktail Lounge "Santa Fe's favorite hangout and live music destination"near the Santa Fe Plaza on the corner of San Francisco and Galiseto.  Talk to anyone who has lived in Santa Fe since it was established in 1971 and, and I guarantee those walls will talk.

Architecture - Evangelo'sArchitecture - Evangelo's


On the corner of Palace and Cathedral stands the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.  The Federal Building which was built between 1920 and 1922, and originally was the post office (along with other government offices), was renovated between 1990 and 1992 to house the museum. Like a number of the buildings in downtown, it was built of brick and reinforced concrete, and "the architects modeled the facade after the portico of Palace of the Governors and its central pavilion after the auditorium of Museum of Fine Arts."  (SAH Archipedia). The painting on the east side is the "graffiti inspired work of Yakita Starr Fields".

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native ArtsIAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Finally, the Allan Houser Art Park on the west side of the museum, currently features a mural by Ehren Lee Natay (Kewa Pueblo-Dine').

Architecture - Santa Fe - IAIA gate and muralArchitecture - Santa Fe - IAIA gate and mural


Thank you for going on this tour of Santa Fe with me.  And thanks to Marilyn G., Catherine, Steve, TTT, Barbara F. R., and Jean & Sam for your comments last week.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image©





Steve Immel(non-registered)
I'm really enjoying your tours of Santa Fe and its architecture. I'm a big fan of so-called downtowns and urban environments everywhere. The swath of Santa Fe's architecture may not be as eclectic as some due to its Spanish Colonial underpinnings but there's a lot of contemporary design happening in the City Different.

I appreciate your interest in the details in local architecture especially the parapets you've included today. Signs, too, tell a story and one can often pick the era it was designed.

Your history lessons are a treat.
Easy downtown tour looking up without having to leave the house. Hooray! Tim’s right, great way to start the day.
Both your photography and your commentary are worthy!
Perfect with my cuppa, this morning, Daryl. Thank you for the mini-history lesson, and the photos as well. Definitely a good way to begin my day. Thanks!
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