Restoring one of Colorado’s most endangered places

During an adobe restoration weekend at the New Mexico-based Lafayette Head House and Ute Indian Agency adoberos Joanne Keane Lopez and Isaac Logston led on-site demonstrations, accompanied by supportive volunteers and renowned regional experts. The workshop was underwritten by Colorado Preservation Inc. and the State Historic Fund of Colorado History.

Techniques taught to participants included collecting, mixing, preparing and applying adobe plaster – a mixture of earth, straw and water – to the walls by hand and with trowels. Workers replaced missing adobe bricks and plastered worn areas to create a smooth exterior wall, resulting in a finish that will allow the building to last for many years to come.

Sandro Cadovas, a adobero from Texas, joined the group to restore one of Colorado’s oldest and most endangered places.

“Adobe is one of the oldest tangible traditions we have in the Southwest United States,” said Sandor Cadovas, a adobero from Texas who joined the restoration group of this endangered place. “It is a tradition that has unfortunately almost disappeared. He disappeared. The adobe tradition is there, the know-how, but it is dormant. And I firmly believe that it is up to us, the younger generations to adoberos and adoberasto maintain the tradition.

Rio de la Vista, director of the Salazar Rio Grande Del Norte Center at Adams State University, said Colorado Preservation Inc’s hands-on approach to preservation philosophy is unique and appreciated. “One of the things I love about this project is that it’s not just about creating a museum that’s frozen in time, but creating a living place where people can interact, understand the history, but also hopefully reflect on what it means for the future,” she said. said.

De la Vista, who helped the site’s Endangered Places app, said there was a huge opportunity to learn first-hand. “How do you take care of these places in a concrete way? How can we not just lose those roots and become a beautiful place that people don’t understand the history of or how it came to be? »

Kristy Duran, local resident and workshop participant.

Local resident and workshop participant Kristy Duran said the restoration of the building is important “not only to bring attention to the significance of this area, but also to remind people who have come from here – that those are our roots. The good, the bad, the whole thing. It’s important for us to keep that alive. Only when we know that can we have those conversations and reflect on who we are,” said said Duran. “And then it’s healing, reconciliation and moving forward.”

Duran, who was able to mix mud with his feet and help plaster the building, said: “There’s something about working together and helping someone else that really nurtures the community and makes her grow.

Participants mix adobe mud plaster with their feet.

“It wasn’t so much about putting plaster on the wall as it was about the conversations people were having around the mud pit, and while they were side by side they were putting mud on the wall,” said said Rael. “I think that’s why people like it.”

“It’s very spiritual,” Cadovas said. “And my opinion is that it’s because we work with the four elements: fire, water, earth and air.”

“I’m very happy now that this is one of the most endangered places in Colorado,” said Dr. Nick Saenz, professor of history at Adams State University. “It means it is well on its way to being saved and preserved for years to come.”

Trowels and other hand tools used in the adobe plastering process.

The Most Endangered Places program has highlighted 130 sites over the past quarter century.

“Looking back, we’ve had a lot of success,” Grant said on the List’s 25th anniversary. “Of the 130 sites listed, 54 were considered saved.” The definition of “saved” depends on the resource in question and its purposes, Grant said. “In 25 years, we’ve only lost seven entries,” Grant said. “That’s a pretty good record, considering the challenges each of these projects face.”

Participants at a weekend adobe workshop support the restoration of one of Colorado’s most endangered places, listed by Colorado Preservation Inc.

A complete list of currently threatened sites throughout Colorado can be found here.

Rather than listing new places at risk in 2022, Colorado Preservation, Inc. focused this year on raising awareness of five existing classified sites showcasing voices that have been lost, sidelined or overlooked within the preservation community, Grant said, including the Dearfield Agricultural Colony and the South Ute Boarding School Campus.

A Save places on the road conference will be held in San Luis, Colorado on August 5-6 and will offer a visit to several sites currently listed.

Applications for endangered places are open until August 22, 2022.


Kate Perdoni is a media reporter for Rocky Mountain PBS and can be reached at kateperdoni@rmpbs.org. See a map of their recent reports here.

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