Sunday, July 5, 2015

Two Historic Taos Houses

Friday July 3, 2015

This is the story of two historic people in Taos
and their homes. They lived at different times
and their houses have taken different paths of preservation,
but they are only a few blocks away from each other near
the Taos plaza.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Historic Inn and Conference Center

Mabel Dodge Luhan was born Mabel Ganson in 1879.
She grew up in Buffalo's social elite. She had an interesting history
including a marriage to a man killed in a hunting accident,
leaving her a young widow at 23 with a young son.
She later married Edwin Dodge, a wealthy
architect. In 1912, Mabel became a prominent
leader hosting weekly discussion salons in her New York apartment.

In 1912, Mabel and her long estranged husband moved to Taos.
Her journey and the beginning of her life in Taos is documented

in her books Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality
and Winter in Taos.

 She soon left Edwin Dodge and immersed herself in the 
rich history of pueblo culture. She met a Taos Tewa man
named Antonio Luhan. After a tumultuous start,
they married in 1919.

Mabel Dodge Luhan
Tony Luhan
Mabel then became a part of inspiring writers, painters,
and other artists to come to Taos.
Her contacts include Georgia O'Keefe, Willa Cather,
Ansel Adams, Laura Gilpin, and D.H. Lawrence. 
She remained a social leader and a leader of the art community
with her own rich personal story and life lived outside the
mold set for women of her time.

Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frieda Lawrence,
Dorothy Brett
The Mabel Dodge Luhan property originally had a four
room adobe house when she purchased it in 1918.
Tony Luhan supervised a crew from the Taos Pueblo

to build it up to its current structure.
The house is named "Los Gallos", meaning "roosters",

thus the rooster figures along the portal (porch) roof.

This section of the home was originally a log cabin structure,
as seen under the portal. The portion out into the patio
is now covered with adobe.

There are many stories associated with this house.
One of the shorter ones is that the bathroom windows
were painted by D.H. Lawrence during one of his stays
at her house. One of the rumors about why is that he
created a sense of privacy in the bathroom from Mabel watching him.

Mabel's home continued to draw visitors throughout her life.
She died in 1962 at the age of 83.
She is buried nearby at the Kit Carson Cemetery.

Her home continues to draw visitors as a 
historic inn that hosts
meditative and artistic retreats for writers and other artists.
It is a quiet, peaceful place to stay.

The Kit Carson House and Museum

Kit Carson was an American frontiersman.
He left an apprenticeship in Missouri at age 16 to become
a mountain man and a trapper.
In his life he was well traveled and lived an adventurous
and active life in the west. He served as a wilderness guide,
an Indian Agent and an officer in the American army.
He was married three times and had ten children.

The Kit Carson House was built in 1825.
It is a National Historic Landmark.

This became a more permanent residence for the active Kit Carson
in the early 1840's. Josefa and six or seven of his children called this
home for the next 25 years. Kit and Josefa lived in Colorado before
their deaths, just 6 months apart, in 1868.
They are both buried in the Kit Carson Cemetery in nearby
Kit Carson Park.

The Bent Lodge, a Masonic Order, purchased the home in 1910.
Kit Carson had been a founder of the parent order in Taos.
The Bent Lodge has continued to restore and maintain the property.

There are three rooms that visitors can view.
The first one is set up as a living room with a kiva fireplace,
old parlor sofa, and large bear skin.

The middle room consists of a fireplace,
table, shelving for dishes, and an old sewing machine.

Josefa was the first resident in Taos to own a sewing machine.
The one on display is a much later model than the one Josefa
would have owned.

The last room was an office that features more of his life
as an officer and the other roles he undertook in his life
with the public.

The courtyard featured some aspects of old, Spanish
New Mexico. There is an horno stove, exposed adobe walls,
and wood doors and windows.

This area was remodeled about 10 years ago.
It used to have a more enclosed garden that
can be seen on old postcards. When I was last here,
they had just built the horno, and the lot was a square
of dirt. I was really happy to see the flowers and the
other additions to the courtyard.

Both the Mabel Dodge Luhan house for her artistic
and affluent eccentricities and the Kit Carson house
for its simple, adobe layout represent the history
and the people in New Mexico.

Each contributed to the people and to history in their
own way and in their own time.
Before I left Taos, I stopped to recognize them both
at the Kit Carson Cemetery.

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