Take a stroll through two historic districts
By Cassie McClure
For the Bulletin
With memories of home, it’s not always just the brick and mortar or adobe which lingers in your thoughts. It’s the community of people that you saw on the street, or the neighbor who let you borrow some sugar. However, the buildings help shape how we interact with our communities and in Las Cruces we have two special areas that have shaped their own neighborhoods and the community as a whole.
The Alameda Depot Historic District centers on Pioneer Woman’s Park, established by the Woman’s Improvement Association in 1898. Its clubhouse, still standing on the east end of the park, was the city’s first formal library. To the west is the train depot, which allowed visitors and newcomers to meet this area of town first. It also helped in building homes. Unique materials could be easily delivered, which is why many homes in that district are not in traditional New Mexican adobe style.
“The Alameda Depot area has been such a welcoming and comforting home since I returned to Las Cruces,” said Angelica Rubio, who lives in the Alameda Depot Historic District. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by good neighbors who look out for each other, and who provide for one another, when necessary. As for my dog, Lennon, he would not want to live anywhere else.”
But if you decide to live in a more traditional adobe setting, the Mesquite District would welcome you. Considered the original town site, it’s bounded by East Texas, Campo, Tornillo, and East Court streets.
Las Esperanzas is an organization which highlights the historic value of the district and awards memorial plaques, much like the signs mounted to street lights and signs around the district, to house and landmark properties instrumental to the cultural history of the neighborhood.
“The recipients commit to displaying their plaque for the community and city to see and appreciate,” said Paul Mach, member of Las Esperanzas. “At the first ceremony in 2013, we awarded 10 plaques. In October of last year, we presented 13. Las Esperanzas has over 40 more plaques which we will gradually present over the next several years.”
Las Esperanzas is hoping to create a brochure for a self-guided walking tour of the South Mesquite Historic District.
“People would walk the historic streets, spot a plaque and be able learn about the buildings and the people that helped carve out the history of Las Cruces,” said Mach.
“When my husband and I built our house here in the original part of town three years ago, we were aware that there were many adobe houses built years and years ago, but we didn’t fully appreciate all the history behind them and the families that built them until we got involved with Las Esperanzas and got to know some of the descendants of those very families,” said Mach.
“Indeed, these stories and history are fascinating, but the history of the Mesquite Historic District for those who are to come after us is being made by us living here today. Some people, new to the original town site and those whose families helped create it are seeing the value of preserving these adobe houses and living in the area,” said Mach. “The galleries and shops that have opened up, especially on Mesquite Street, are beginning to renew an interest in the area. The new plaza is going to bring more vitality downtown and I get to live within a stone’s throw of it all.”