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Editorial: Authoring a comeback at the Lawrence Ranch

The Homesteader’s Cabin at the D.H. Lawrence Ranch is among many that need restoration or replacement. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The Homesteader’s Cabin at the D.H. Lawrence Ranch is among many that need restoration or replacement. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The northern New Mexico ranch that briefly served as the home of a famous British author – actually infamous in some circles, especially at the time he was writing almost a century ago – finally is getting some well-deserved tender loving care.

And that might mean more of a chance for many of us to explore and learn at the D.H. Lawrence Ranch at San Cristobal, some 20 miles north of Taos.

Frieda Lawrence, the author’s wife, who came back to live at the ranch after D.H.’s death, bequeathed the property to the University of New Mexico, calling for it to be used for educational and cultural purposes, and that it be open to the public.

That hasn’t happened much in recent years. It was closed from 2008 until last year, when it was opened three days a week in the summer.

But now supporters are training docents to provide tours and even talking about building a visitors center.

The D.H. Lawrence Ranch near San Cristobal includes this shrine to the British author. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The D.H. Lawrence Ranch near San Cristobal includes this shrine to the British author. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The trick, of course, is to raise enough money to support what is needed to make the ranch a viable tourist draw. Groups like the D.H. Lawrence Ranch Alliance and Friends of D.H. Lawrence are working on fundraising, and UNM launched the D.H. Lawrence Ranch Initiatives to figure out how to best fix up the historic site.

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A lot of cleanup already has been done, But an old water system – storage tanks, bathrooms, a pumping system and a water supply to the caretaker’s house – still needs major repair. In the long run, construction of a meeting place, replacement of 15 dilapidated cabins and rehabilitation of all six of the property’s historic buildings are part of the revitalization plan.

In the past, the ranch served its education purposes through an anthropological field school and painting classes. Such classes might return there, along with other activities, such as having architecture students helping with building restorations.

We’re encouraged to see this renewed effort to make the ranch a useful center for study, as well as an attraction for visitors, in northern New Mexico. And eventual expansion of services for visitors, as well as an increase in the number of days it is open to the public, would be very welcome.

People working on this effort deserve everyone’s thanks – and some donations to the project wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.


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