John Gaw Meem at Acoma: The Restoration of San Esteban del by Kate Wingert-Playdon

By Kate Wingert-Playdon

Built via Spanish Franciscan missionaries within the 17th century, the incredible challenge church at Acoma Pueblo in west-central New Mexico is the oldest and biggest intact adobe constitution in North the USA. yet within the Nineteen Twenties, at risk of changing into a break, the construction used to be restored in a cooperative attempt between Acoma Pueblo, which owned the constitution, and different events. Kate Wingert-Playdon's narrative of the recovery and the method in the back of it's the merely specified account of this milestone instance of old upkeep, during which New Mexico's most renowned architect, John Gaw Meem, performed a massive role.

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Extra resources for John Gaw Meem at Acoma: The Restoration of San Esteban del Rey Mission

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Meem viewed the problem as a local one that included the reuse of beams, an interest in using local materials, and a desire to work with the needs of the Acoma tribe. Addressing logistics—the kind of scaffolding that would be comfortable for the labor force—might be included here to justify expense but also presents a willingness to understand cultural needs in carrying out the work. Local solutions are to be preferred, while anticipating that these might be superseded for practical reasons, such as the problem of finding gravel.

The preservation of the mission would assert what was good about the friars’ presence in New Mexico. B a c kg r o u n d 25 A plan for preservation in the 1920s required some knowledge of the mission in its historical context so that informed speculation could occur about how to revive and restore the building from its deteriorated state to one that was authentic. In the 1920s the historical mission was known through three types of documentation. First, records kept by the Spanish ecclesiastical authorities included descriptions contemporary with the building of the missions through the nineteenth century.

N-66, Western History Collection, Denver Public Library. was left to Meem, then twenty-nine years old. Meem was engaged in two projects for the Committee at that time: in addition to his responsibilities supervising the work at the Acoma mission, he was busily trying to initiate work on the church in the village of Trampas, north of Santa Fe. Meem had come to Santa Fe to be treated for tuberculosis at Sunmount Sanatorium. Trained in engineering, he spent his time at Sunmount transitioning to a career in architecture.

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