Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, NM

photo by: Minesh Bacrania

August 5, 2015

Palace of the Governors: A Time Capsule of Santa Fe's Diverse History

Located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Palace of the Governors is one of the oldest, in-use public building in the United States. Once the seat of power, the Palace now showcases the diverse and colorful history of Santa Fe and its peoples.

It is often assumed that our country’s oldest buildings are found in the original colonies on the East Coast. In fact, one of the oldest, in-use-public buildings in the United States is the adobe structure known as the Palace of the Governors in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico.

photo by: Palace of the Governors Photo Archives/Jesse Nusbaum

photo by: Palace of the Governors Photo Archives/Edward Kemp

Built by Spanish colonists around 1610, the one-story building originally served as the seat of Spain’s government in the New World. For hundreds of years, the Palace served as the seat of the changing government: Spain, Native Americans, Mexico, the U.S. Territory of New Mexico, and the Confederate occupation of Santa Fe.

Owned by the State of New Mexico, the Palace has acted as the state museum, containing artifacts that reflect the colorful and diverse history of the state and its people.

In the early 20th century, the 1610 building underwent a major restoration which included reviving historically accurate elements that are believed to reflect the Spanish Colonial period of the structure’s history.

photo by: Palace of the Governors Photo Archives/Jesse Nusbaum

photo by: Palace of the Governors Photo Archives/T. Harmon Parkhurst

Palace of the Governors

photo by: Blair Clark

If you take a stroll along the front portal, you will see local Native American artisans showcasing and selling their work as they have done for generations.

Earlier this year, the Palace of the Governors was declared a National Treasure with much pomp and local flavor. Over 400 attendees, from members of the public and a school group to preservation organizations and statewide dignitaries, took part in the festivities. In addition to the announcement and impassioned voices speaking for the preservation of this site, the Sons of the American Revolution were on-site for a flag presentation. Costumed interpreters and building experts were on hand to answer questions about the Palace and its history while attendees had the opportunity to print a commemorative bookmark using a century old printing press.

Though the Palace has maintained much of its original character, the building is in need of funding from the state for necessary repairs totaling $1.5 million. Hundreds of New Mexican citizens have rallied to support the cause and, in a special session of the legislature, $680,000 was allocated by the state for repairs.

As Amy Cole, senior field officer and attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said, “We thank the legislature and Governor Martinez for providing the Palace of the Governors with a healthy down payment for much-needed capital improvements to repair and update the historic structure. We look forward to working with legislators during the January 2016 session to secure the remaining funds needed to fully protect and restore this living embodiment of the unique history of the American Southwest.”

Kirsten Hower is part of the National Trust’s social media team. When she’s not helping save places, she’s using social media to help stop art crime.


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