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Step back to pioneer days at five historic houses in Taos.

Among the intrepid adventurers who made their way to Taos over the centuries were explorers, artists, mountain men, and other iconoclasts. Their legacy of art and legend is made still more enduring by the meticulous restoration and maintenance of five historic houses, all open to the public. Visit one or all to get a sense of Taos's pioneer spirit and creative energy. Kit Carson Historic Museums manages three of the five properties (the other two are privately owned): The Martinez Hacienda, the Kit Carson House and Museum, and the Blumenschein house. Each offers entertaining depictions of life in the early days of the frontier. Admission is $3 to visit one house, $5 for two, and $7 for all three; children under 16 pay $2.50, $4, and $6; seniors pay $2, $3, and $5. For more details, call (505) 758-0505.

The Martinez Hacienda

The Martinez name occupies an exalted position in Taos lore: Don Antonio Severino Martinez, who built this Spanish colonial-style structure in 1780, was an influential politician and businessman. His son, Antonio Jose (better known as Padre Martinez), went on to become famous as a civic and spiritual leader. Wilia Cather modeled a prominent character after Antonio Jose in her novel of the era, Death Comes for the Archbishop.

The building's 21 rooms whose massive adobe walls have no exterior windows surround two courtyards. Exhibits depict Spanish culture and traditions of the region, and scheduled demonstrations introduce visitors to such traditional and contemporary crafts as weaving, woodcarving, and pottery making.

The hacienda is the site of the Old Taos Trade Fair, held every year over Labor Day weekend. It attracts a colorful mix of modern-day mountain men, craftsmen, artists, and vendors to an authentic recreation of trade fairs of the Martinez era. The hacienda is 2 miles from Taos Plaza on Ranchitos Road (State Highway 240); it's open 9 to 5 daily year-round.

Kit Carson House and Museum

This is the place to experience the Old West as it really was. Built in 1825, the house was purchased in 1843 by the famous scout as a wedding present for his wife, Josefina. The house has eight rooms, three of which have been furnished with authentic pieces from that era. Other rooms house exhibits on the various periods in Taos's history, including gun and mountain-man displays, an Indian room, a Spanish room, and a Taos room. The house (8 to 6 daily, 9 to 5 December through March) is a half-block east of Taos Plaza on Kit Carson Road.

The Ernest L. Blumenschein Home

A cofounder of the Taos Society of Artists, painter Ernest Blumenschein created an intriguing hybrid of sophisticated European style and rugged Taos simplicity when he built this house in 1797. Restored to its original adobe inside and out, it features traditional Taos furniture, European antiques, and a gallery of art from around the world.

Paintings by Blumenschein himself, his wife Mary Greene, and daughter Helen adorn the walls. The house imparts a "lived-in" feeling, as if its owners had just stepped out for a moment. It's situated on Ledoux Street two blocks west of Taos Plaza. Hours are 9 to 5 daily all year.

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House In the 1920s, Mabel Dodge Luhan regularly held court in her renovated 200year-old house, entertaining the likes of D.H. Lawrence, Wilia Cather, Aldous Huxley, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Carl Jung. The Spanish colonial house sits on 5 acres of land bordering Taos Pueblo, within walking distance of Taos Plaza. Today it operates as a bed and breakfast; it also has a learning and conference center called Las Palomas de Taos.

Accommodations include a handful of gaily decorated rooms in the main house, among them the room where Georgia O'Keeffe used to stay, as well as rooms at the adjacent guest house; cost ranges from $55 to $125 (for Mabel Dodge Luhan's own suite). Call 758-9456 for a free catalog of weekend learning events, or for additional information.

The Fechin House Another treasure from the 1920s, this house was built in 1928 by the Russian expatriate Nicolai Fechin, whose multiple talents included painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, and woodcarving. This last he pursued as a form of recreation, and his house is filled with an astonishing array of hand-carved doors, windows, posts, beams, and furniture as well as paintings and other art objects. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Also on the grounds is the Gatehouse, formerly a detached kitchen, converted into a cafe and museum gift shop that sells books, posters, and cards.

The Fechin Institute, a nonprofit educational and cultural organization run by Fechin's daughter, Eya, has its headquarters at the house. Throughout the summer and fall, it offers art exhibitions, concerts, seminars, and writing and art workshops. Special showings of Fechin's paintings as well as those of other Russian masters are particularly popular.

Fechin House is on Paseo del Pueblo Norte, a few blocks north of the Old Taos Inn; it's open to the public from the last weekend of May through the first weekend of October from 1 to 5:30 Pm. Wednesdays through Sundays, and at other times by appointment. Donation is $3. For information, call 758-1710. 1-1
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Title Annotation:New Mexico
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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