OAS | June 2023

I am happy to share that the Office of Archeological Studies recently received a City of Santa Fe Archaeology Award for the Archeological Reconnaissance of the Eugenie Shonnard House. This award is presented by the City of Santa Fe's Historic Preservation Division, the Old Santa Fe Association, and the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.

"The Eugenie Shonnard House at 1411 Paseo de Peralta is a multi-chaptered success story in Santa Fe’s historic preservation process. Listed on both the State and National registers of historic places, the history of the property and its structures were thoroughly documented by Donna Quasthoff in the 1970s, and the buildings were carefully restored by Margo Cutler, Filmore Rose, and the Historic Santa Fe Foundation in the 1980s. The latest and probably last chapter of the story has been the history of the property as revealed by archaeology.

Eugenie Shonnard had bequeathed the property to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the Foundation needed a new building at the back of the property, a driveway, and parking. Santa Fe requires archaeological reconnaissance in advance of new construction within the Historic Downtown Archaeological Review District, and Spears Horn, Architects, and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation worked with the Museum of New Mexico’s Office of Archaeological Studies (OAS) to conduct the archaeology.

Reconnaissance isn’t pretty, consisting of backhoe trenches across open areas of the property and limited hand excavation, but the purpose is to quickly and efficiently reveal history that is invisible and unanticipated from the modern surface. In a perfect world, reconnaissance documents that nothing of importance will be lost to the new construction, but if something of importance will be lost, the City of Santa Fe requires archaeological treatment to recover historically important information.

The OAS archaeological team of Richard Montoya, the late Susan Moga, Karen Wening, Isaiah Coan, Vernon Foster, and Lynette Etsitty, under the direction of Eric Blinman, conducted the required investigation of two percent of the undeveloped lot area in 2017 and 2018. No pre-Colonial archaeology was present, and the historic use of the lot was relatively unchanged in plan from the founding of Santa Fe to the present. The earliest structures from the nineteenth century appear to have simply been remodeled and rebuilt in place, and outdoor spaces of gardens, corrals, community alleys, and parking areas were rotated through those uses through time. The privy, however, was not located.

The history of the Shonnard house and the lot on which it stands predates its association with Eugenie Shonnard. The lot was originally owned by José Abrán Ortiz, a Santa Fe retail merchant who sold the lot to Rosa Gallegos de Romero and her husband Bruno in 1874, so it is possible that the Romeros purchased an empty lot in 1874 and built the three-room adobe home that eventually became Shonnard’s studio. In 1890, the Romeros sold the lot and its accompanying structure to Nestora Luceros de Kirchner and her husband August Kirchner, a druggist and merchant in Santa Fe. The Kirchners then contracted with Gerard Koch to supply building materials, and with Philip Hesch to design and construct what is now known as the Shonnard House. In October of 1895, the house was sold to Charles and Emma Kiesov, who remained in the house until 1927, and raised three sons during that time.

Emma Kiesov continued to live at 226 Hickox following the death of her husband until 1927, at which time she put the house up for sale. The Shonnards—Eugenie and her mother—learned of the availability of the house from Dr. Edgar Hewett, who in turn learned it from Mabel Kiesov, a daughter-in-law of Charles and Emma who was working for Dr. Hewett at the time. Shonnard’s mother, Eugenie Smythe Shonnard, purchased the property in the spring of 1927.

Almost immediately after moving to the house on Hickox Street, Shonnard and her new husband, Edward Ludlam, set about remodeling the stable—previously the Romero home--into what would become her working space for the next 50 years. The renovation was apparently completed in less than a year’s time, since the December issue of El Palacio stated that “in the spacious garden [of the house], Miss Shonnard has built herself a studio where she works on commissions that have come to her even in this remote part of the world.”

To read more, contact Lauren Paige at lauren@museumfoundation.org