WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the National Park Service is awarding nearly $270,000 for historic preservation projects in New Mexico through the Save America’s Treasures program. The Village of Santa Clara will use funds to make repairs in Fort Bayard located near Santa Clara, N.M. and Cornerstones Community Partnerships will use funds to restore Casita Desiderio y Pablita Ortega, part of Plaza del Cerro, located in Chimayo, N.M. The grants are awarded to preserve and protect historic properties that represent our nation’s rich cultural heritage.
“New Mexico is home to numerous sites with deep historical and cultural significance, but many require resources for restoration and preservation,” said Udall, who serves as the lead Democrat on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the National Park Service and the Save America’s Treasures program. “Restoring Fort Bayard holds economic and cultural promise for the residents of Santa Clara and Grant County and Plaza del Cerro – a stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture – is the last fully enclosed fortified colonial plaza of its kind remaining in New Mexico. I will continue to push for funding to ensure that future generations can explore and learn from some of the most unique, historic gems our state has to offer.”
“In New Mexico, our rich history is baked into the clay and mud in our walls. Many New Mexicans can trace their heritage back to the Spanish families who built adobe homes and villages in places like Chimayó’s Plazo del Cerro. I am proud to support the Chimayó Cultural Preservation Association and Cornerstone Community Partnerships as they work to restore and conserve these historically and culturally significant plaza buildings. These structures serve as a physical symbol of the strength and resilience of northern New Mexicans,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich added, “Fort Bayard holds an important place in the diverse history of southwestern New Mexico. The U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Fort Bayard during the 19th century, including the iconic Buffalo Soldiers, protected some of the early American settlers and miners in Grant County. Over the years, Fort Bayard fulfilled many roles, from a tuberculosis and veterans’ hospital and a site for German prisoners of war during World War II to its current use as a long-term health care and treatment facility. I am proud to support this funding to ensure we conserve this historic place and continue to learn from its history.”
The preservation and restoration of Plaza del Cerro represents a cultural, social, economic opportunity for communities around Chimayó and northern New Mexico. Across the state, New Mexico is home to historic sites that hold invaluable information about our history and our people. That is why I will continue to fight for funding that supports efforts to restore and preserve these historic sites so that future generations can understand the rich history of these communities,” said Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján.
“One of the first installations in the Southwest to be garrisoned by Buffalo Soldiers, and later the U.S. Army’s first tuberculosis hospital and research center, Fort Bayard has played an important role in New Mexico’s rich cultural fabric. These funds will go a long way in preserving Fort Bayard for generations to come, transforming it into a regional attraction and bringing more visitors to Grant County. I’m proud to help highlight one of New Mexico’s hidden gems,” Torres Small said.
The full breakdown of the Save America’s Treasures awards is below:
- The Village of Santa Clara – $125,000, for the Fort Bayard Museum and Education Building Restoration. Fort Bayard was established as a U.S. Army installation in 1866, to protect miners and other settlers along the Apache Trail. Fort Bayard was one of many installations throughout the Southwest that was garrisoned by Buffalo Soldiers. This project will repair and replace gutters, prepare and paint buildings, replace and repair front and back porches and address foundation issues.
- Cornerstones Community Partnerships – $144,911, for the Conservation and Preservation of the Casita Desiderio y Pablita Ortega. Plaza del Cerro is the last fully enclosed fortified colonial plaza of its kind remaining in New Mexico and likely the only one of its kind in the United States. The plaza has some of the best-preserved traditional adobe buildings that represent a high level of Spanish colonial residential plazas in New Mexico. It is believed to be the original center of the Spanish Village of El Paraje de Chimayo, considered the eastern boundary or frontier of the Spanish settlements in the Rio Grande Valley. This project will conserve, restore, and repair portions of Casita Desiderio, a two-room adobe residence on the plaza and a contributing structure to the Plaza del Cerro National Register District (1972).