“Oh, No! Is She Starting a ‘Save the Adobe Casita’ Campaign?”

“Save the Adobe Casita.”

I had known for some time that friends were planning to demolish two old adobes on their land. The process had actually been delayed for a couple of years by intervening life events that required attention first. Over the years I had taken some photos of the smaller adobe casita, but never one that I thought captured the essence of New Mexico adobes. At the beginning of summer of 2012, after some high winds had ripped parts of roofs off, creating a definite liability, friends Tim and Laurie made definite plans for the demolition of the old adobes on their land.

In June of 2012 I finally managed to make an image of the smaller adobe casita that captured what I wanted to show. The day lilies that had been lovingly planted were blooming, the wonderful light of sunset was falling on the adobe, and the beautiful old cottonwood that was both providing a foundation for the casita and at the same time threatening its walls was clearly seen. I posted this image on Facebook.

Adobe Casita
Adobe Casita

The image started a discussion that, on the one hand made me happy because people saw the charm of the adobe casita, and on the other hand made friends Tim and Laurie wonder if I were trying to “save the casita.” I began to worry I might lose a friendship over that one photo! 🙁 Images have power that sometimes we do not realize!

Not to worry, however. Tim and Laurie allowed me to spend a week in August 2012 photographing before, during, and after the demolition.

The little adobe casita was charming, even partway through demolition. This image shows the view from the front door, looking out on the brown-eyed Susans that were blooming in August, along with some of the door detail, and the adobe construction itself.

adobe casita
Partially demolished adobe casita

But, as charming as I found some things about the little casita, even I knew it either had to come down, or a lot of money spent to restore it.

These images inside the casita were taken 36 hours before the beginning of demolition:

adobe casita
Living room of the casita
adobe casita
What had been the bathroom

And, then, it was time for the casita to come down.

adobe casita
Adobe casita coming down
adobe casita
Down to the last wall standing
adobe casita
Little casita down

I found it amazing how rapidly and easily the adobe crumbled when the demolition began. The little adobe casita was completely down by 1:00 pm on Demolition Day 1, and the crew had already done a lot of work on the second and larger adobe.

If you are interested in some of the issues surrounding preservation and restoration of some adobes in the Southwest, here is a link to Spanish Missions and here is a link to preservation of historic buildings.

So, back to the question. No, I was not starting a campaign to save my friends’ adobes. Nor is the Adobe Project a campaign to save other old adobes. The traditional old adobe, which was once so functional in the Desert Southwest, is being replaced by more stable construction materials that do not require such constant and intensive maintenance. The appearance of stabilized and semi-stabilized adobe (usually with the addition of asphalt) is very close to that of traditional adobe, so that many people may not be aware of the difference. My goal is to document change that is occurring in the 21st Century, as a part of New Mexico history is gradually disappearing.