A Guide to the Use of Adobe in Building

      The first seeds for the concept for this book on adobe architecture were sown as early as 1916, when Wilfred Stedman was a student at the Art Students League in New York City. It was there that he saw Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips’ paintings of adobe homes in villages in and around Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. When in the early 1920s and 1930s Wilfred and Myrtle came to see and experience this area for themselves, they met Mary Austin, Alice Corbin Henderson, Will Shuster, Frank Applegate, Josef Bakos and Mabel Dodge Luhan—all famous artists and writers of that time. These people made themselves and their friends from all over the world feel at home in this vernacular architecture.
            It was members from this group, plus business people, politicians and interested citizens who organized The Old Santa Fe Association. To this day, the Association is dedicated “to preserve and maintain the ancient landmarks, natural resources, historical structures and traditions of Old Santa Fe; to guide the growth and development in such a way as to sacrifice as little as possible of that unique charm and quality of life, born of age, tradition, and environment.” (From a 1986 letter from the Association.)
            Credit for interest in our work is due this organization, shown by way of an invitation for Mrs. Stedman to appear on a panel discussion for the 1983 National Trust for Historic Preservation Week, and again in 1985 to serve on a panel to celebrate “what Santa Fe used to be like” for their 60th birthday celebration.
            While nowhere in the United States is the Earth Building spirit as revered as in Santa Fe and Taos, new interest is spreading all over the world. New research and new technology is being combined with the traditional in keeping with an overall awakening to the natural resources and beauty of our planet and with a new personal sense of responsibility on the part of individuals in regard to better planning in the use of these. There is a new sense of joy in finding out how much one can do oneself with natural materials.
            Centuries ago there existed throughout the American Southwest, even as now, Indian races highly developed and skillful in the art of building. Surviving Indian Pueblos, visible today, have changed little since the time of their development. It is largely to these unique and indigenous apartment houses that we owe our present day architecture known as Santa Fe Style. The Spanish colonists entering this country in the 16th century brought the faith, culture, customs and architecture of Spain. But adjustment to climatic conditions, use of local material and employment of native craftsmen effected marked changes, creating an architecture peculiar to the Southwest. The beauty and charm of this Santa Fe Style depends entirely upon sincerity and simplicity, the organic character of structural design being allowed expression according to its function. The large Spanish homes were usually built to enclose a patio in which the family life centered; here, screened from public gaze, were gay “mecetas,” flowering shrubs, birds—a pool or well, bright colors, shade, comfort. Certain designs herein incorporate this feature in a modified way. It is not our intention to show the pretentious, but to depict modest designs suitable to modern requirements, compact in arrangement and fitting the limited area of the average building lot. We hope this volume may be helpful, and an incentive in perpetuating Santa Fe Style architecture in its beauty and simplicity.