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State Historic Sites hosts Aug. 26 birthday party for J. Paul Taylor


Earlier this year, we said goodbye to J. Paul Taylor, one of the most stalwart advocates for art, culture, and education in New Mexico’s history. He would have been 103 on Aug. 24. To celebrate his life and legacy, New Mexico Historic Sites (NMHS) is throwing him a birthday celebration. New Mexicans of all stripes are invited to celebrate the lives of Mr. Taylor and Mary Daniels Taylor, his late wife.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the public is invited to join staff and Mr. Taylor’s loved ones on the Mesilla Plaza for family friendly activities and booths highlighting the history and culture of the Mesilla Valley.

In addition to that, members of the Friends of the Taylor Family Monument will be granted an exclusive preview of the Taylor-Mesilla Historic Site ahead of its official unveiling. Visitors will need to be members of the Friends prior to Aug. 26 to participate in the tour. To learn how to join the Friends, visit https://jpt100th.com/.

“Celebrating Mr. and Mrs. Taylor’s lives without either of them is certainly bittersweet,” said Rhonda Dass, manager of Taylor-Mesilla Historic Site. “However, the extraordinary gift they have given the people of New Mexico in Taylor-Mesilla Historic Site is an ongoing reminder that we need to celebrate the incredible people who have blessed our community in their own unique ways. All of us at New Mexico Historic Sites are proud to carry on J. Paul Taylor and Mary Daniel Taylor’s legacy.”

Birthday celebrations like this have been an annual affair since 2010. While Mr. Taylor was alive, they were an opportunity for him to engage with the public and tell his story and that of his home. This was not an obligation for him. He was enthusiastic about sharing the home’s layers of history and discussing the art he’d collected over the years, no matter who you were or when you spoke to him. 

In 2003, the Taylors agreed to donate their historic home to the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The home became a state monument shortly thereafter. 

In the spirit of Mr. Taylor’s enthusiasm, NMHS, the Friends of the Taylor Family Monument, and the Taylor family have conjured a birthday celebration focused on celebrating him and the causes he championed in life again this year.

Schedule of events

Saturday, Aug. 26

10 a.m.–4 p.m.: Highlights from Mesilla Valley history and culture on the Plaza

10:30–11:30 a.m.: Speakers, J. Paul Taylor Academy kindergarteners, first graders and second graders performing La Marcha

Brandon Brown is a public relations specialist with New Mexico Historic Sites, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The New Mexico Historic Sites system was established in 1931 by an Act for the Preservation of the Scientific Resources of New Mexico. The eight Historic Sites include Coronado, Fort Selden, Fort Stanton, Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner Historic Site, Jemez, Lincoln and Los Luceros.