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Book details history, architecture of artifact-filled Casa San Ysidro

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The adobe walls of Casa San Ysidro echo with the artifacts of New Mexico’s remote frontier.

Refurbished and restored by historian Ward Alan Minge in 1954, this Territorial Revival gem today stands as a satellite of the Albuquerque Museum, operated jointly by the city and the village of Corrales.

Minge has penned “Casa San Ysidro: The Gutiérrez/Minge House” (University of New Mexico Press) about his former Corrales home, complete with photographs documenting the property’s architectural changes across the decades. Curator of history Deborah Slaney will talk about the book at the museum at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21.

“Casa is such a unique property,” Slaney said. “It’s a combination of a historic property owned by this original family in Corrales combined with a romantic re-creation.”

Jesús María Gutiérrez built the original Territorial Greek Revival rancho in 1875. Minge and his wife, Shirley Jolly Minge, designed and hand-built additional adobe rooms around a traditional 18th to early 19th century-style plazuela using parts from significant at-risk historic buildings. They also re-created a corral surround and a historic barn and added cabins they moved to the property, as well as a heritage field and a private chapel.

The architecture weaves the triangular pediments and central breezeway of Greek Revival with adobe.

By the time the Minges bought the property, it was in disrepair.

“Most of the walls were gone; parts of the ceilings and floors were gone,” Slaney said.

“He re-created the west wing as it would have looked in the 1700s and early 1800s. The collections range all of those centuries.”

Minge collected artifacts suggesting a 600-year occupation history.

The sweeping 18th century sala or parlor depicted on the book’s cover holds traditional New Mexican furniture, pueblo and Hispanic pottery, pueblo and Rio Grande weavings, as well as doors made at Acoma Pueblo. A second sala brims with Victorian furniture and gilded sconces. Grilles in the adjoining bedrooms came from the windows in a defunct Anton Chico cantina where legend has it Billy the Kid sipped.

An early 19th century New Mexican chest carved by the legendary Valdez family of carpenters hugs the entry hall. The private chapel includes retablos and bultos, including an image of San Ysidro Labrador (patron saint of the harvest) by José Rafael Aragón, one of the state’s early master santeros. A spectacular French Victorian brass canopy bed owned by Gov. Manuel Armijo, circa 1845, helms the master bedroom with ruffles and lace. There’s also a gavel Gov. Bradford Prince used at the Palace of the Governors.

“What isn’t on exhibit there we use here at the museum,” Slaney said.

One of New Mexico’s pre-eminent scholars of Spanish Colonial, Mexican, Territorial and pueblo history, Minge served as a historian at Kirtland Air Force Base. He was the first historian hired to help the pueblos negotiate the never-ending maze of legal issues affecting tribal land and water rights.

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