House Of Spirits

Across the highway from St Francis de Asis Church, is a smaller, lesser known compound which was once part of the Ranchos Plaza.

In fact, before the highway tore through its center, the old and original part of the Plaza, now hidden from view, had once been the epicenter of the settlement known as Las Trampas.

Originally part of the Serna Land Grant, the land given to the Serna family by order of the Spanish Crown, included all of present day Ranchos de Taos, Llano Quemado and Talpa, as well as all the land North to Cruz Alta Plaza.

In 1724, the Serna Grant changed hands when two of Serna’s children signed a deed to Diego Romero aka El Coyote, who built the extraordinary Hacienda featured here on taoStyle last month. In 1725, the settlement, originally known as Las Trampas de Taos became Ranchos de Taos. In 1760 the Old Town (i.e. the little area behind the Ranchos Plaza we know today), was attacked by Comanche raiders who took fifty women from a fortified home in the compound, and killed most of the the men of the settlement.

After finding shelter at Taos Pueblo for some time, the survivors began returning to Las Trampas.

A fortified mission church began to be built across from the original compound. Between 1796 and 1797, land from the Don Fernando de Taos Land Grant was given to 63 families. In 1815 the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church was completed and the regional population had grown immensely, due to the gifting of more Land Grants by Order of the Crown.

As the families grew, more dwellings were built encircling the little Plaza. Wells were dug and land was farmed. Orchards were planted and tended to, as life followed a Seasonal rhythm. The harvest was gathered and put up to be stored. Animals and poultry were kept in the little compound, for milk, eggs and meat. The men hunted and the deer and elk meat was salted and preserved to sustain the community through the long winters.

The houses that were built generation by generation, sheltered not only the families who moved into them as they outgrew their former dwellings, but also traders and travelers passing through the rugged territory. Oh if walls could talk!

One of these homes, a three-story adobe set in a lush green square of well-tended lawn, shaded by an old Cottonwood tree, belongs to Page Patterson, the owner of the apartment on Dona Luz. Page it appears, has been called to become a custodian of some of the oldest and most historically pertinent properties in the area.

Perhaps it is her sensitivity as an artist which gifts her with an unique approach to bringing these spaces into the current era, without sacrificing their charm. It seems to me that the spirits who inhabit these respective walls, find her and implore her to love and restore their ancient domains.

Upon entering this truly special home, one is transported back in time; the small-scale furnishings and antiques Page has decorated the rooms with, feel as if they have been there forever.

“This house decorated itself,” Page told me. “I found everything I needed for it in no time at all, it was as if I were led to each piece.”

Clearly these (21/2′ thick adobe) walls do talk and their current owner listens.

The day was clear and cold but the sun shone brightly. The snow that had fallen the night before was already melting but the house was toasty warm. The warmth radiated from a sense of belonging and safety as well as from the modern-day central heating. We sat for a while in the sweet, sunny parlour in the front of the house. Looking out onto the lawn, where the old well is now covered by a deck, I could imagine life here in the not too distant past.

Births, weddings, funerals and fiestas, where people gathered and a pig or sheep was butchered and roasted, to feed the entire community of souls. I imagined I heard the laughter of children playing outside around the old tree, its branches now bare.

“I certainly feel the lives of those who have lived here,” said Page as we talked. “This house has been a safe haven for many people, I think.”

Currently Page rents the house in two parts. The upstairs, two-story apartment is rented long-term to a colleague of her husband Douglas Patterson, the Architect. The downstairs, where we sat, is available as a short-term rental and is listed, like the apartment on Dona Luz, with Airbnb.

“I would sell to the right person,” she said wistfully, as we got ready to leave. “They would have to love it as much as I do though.”

As we left and Page turned the key in the lock, I once more thought I heard the sound of a child’s laughter, and it occurred to me that the love Page has for this house, extends into the spirit world, and warms the hearts of its original occupants.

I have no doubt someone will be as captivated by this house as Page is, but in the meanwhile it is the perfect home away from home for a family or group of friends, who want to spend a little time here in Taos exploring the area.

To see more images of this lovely house and to book your stay, do visit the links below this post. If you are interested in discovering more about the property, please contact Page directly.


Page Frances Patterson

LDG & Real Estate QB
All photographs c/o Page Frances Patterson


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