Exploring Santa Fe History
When I travel I long to explore the museums and historic sites of the area. In Santa Fe, I hit the mother load. The city is filled with history and I had ample opportunity for exploration. In fact, there was so much that I couldn’t see it all in one visit. I guess I’ll just have to return one day.
In the heart of town just off the plaza is the Palace of the Governors. Built in the 17th century for the Spanish government it’s a fascinating site. Inside you’ll find artifacts of Santa Fe’s history dating back to the original native settlers.
There is also ample history of the various eras (Spanish, Mexican, US Territory and statehood) of New Mexico’s history.
Just across the courtyard is the New Mexico History Museum which is included in the admission to the Palace of the Governors. This is a modern structure that contains artifacts of New Mexican history from the ancient past the the current era. It’s a large structure and I enjoyed wandering its exhibit halls learning of the varied history of this fascinating state. In my wanderings I came across an exhibit that cemented my newfound love for New Mexico.
Ever since I was a little girl obsessed with the movie The Harvey Girls I’ve been fascinated with the history of Fred Harvey and his numerous Harvey houses. Before he came along travelers to the West had little resources for dining and overnight accommodations. He changed all that with his restaurants and hotels. They’re fascinating structures and I’ve enjoyed visiting the locations in Los Angeles and Barstow but this was the first time I’ve seen such a vast amount of Harvey artifacts.
I was in heaven and spent a great deal of time pouring over them. I especially enjoyed the various posters for the film as it remains one of my favorite movies.
While Harvey Houses are part of the recent past Santa Fe also happens to be the location of the oldest home in America.
This humble structure rests of the foundation of Pblo dwellings that date to 1200. It’s gone through various incarnations in its long history and was continuously occupied through the 1920’s. Today it’s a small museum and shop.
After visiting the oldest house we decided to stop by the Bataan Memorial Building but our GPS took us to the Bataan Memorial Museum. We decided to seize the opportunity and view the exhibits. The museum (also known as the New Mexico National Guard Museum) displays artifacts detailing the states military involvement dating back to the Civil War but much of the museum is devoted to the Bataan Death March. This 1942 march of 60-80,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war was one of the darkest moments of World War II. Thousands of soldiers lost their lives during the harrowing journey. Among the many soldiers on the march were 1800 New Mexicans.
The museum is a sobering but necessary place to visit. As the years since World War II grow longer we can’t forget those who sacrificed their time and often their lives for our country.
Along with a rich cultural and military history Santa Fe is known for it’s art and is home to the New Mexico Museum of Art.
The New Mexico Museum of Art was founded in 1917 and remains in it’s original structure. It’s a beautiful adobe building that looks much the same as it did almost 100 years ago. Inside is a wide variety of artwork by various New Mexico artists as well as rotating traveling exhibits.
Perhaps the most famous New Mexican artist is Georgia O’Keeffe. Although not born in the state she spent most of her life in the Santa Fe area and in town is a museum devoted to her.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum holds a wide variety of her artwork as well as photographs and artifacts.
I’m not a huge Georgia O’Keeffe fan but it was lovely to view her various works in the region she called home.
Just about everywhere you turn in Santa Fe you’re confronted with the past. It’s a fascinating place with a rich history that I was lucky enough to explore.