Everything past is always present in New Mexico, especially the stories embedded in its land and architecture. People here are as passionate about the state’s hard-working historical buildings as they are about a modest 150-year-old neighborhood adobe. At Los Luceros, New Mexico’s newest historic site, “now” and “then” mingle on 140+ bucolic acres stretching along the Rio Grande’s banks about 20 minutes north of Española, on Highway 68. While only open to the public since 2019, the history of this culturally significant (and possibly haunted) place dates back to at least the 1400s.
Encounter Culture host Charlotte Jusinski enlists two of Los Luceros’s most knowledgeable staffers to share its fascinating history and preview its contemporary contributions––with Carly Stewart, Site Manager, and Rebecca Ward, Instructional Coordinator, Los Luceros Historic Site.
“The history [of Los Luceros] starts back thousands of years,” says Rebecca, acknowledging the Tewa-speaking Native peoples that have inhabited this area well before the Spanish began divvying it up and granting large tracts to loyalists like Sebastian Martín, who received 51,000 acres in 1709. Rebecca and Carly can tick off every event that has shaped Los Luceros in the 300 years since Sebastian’s original claim––family disputes, floods, insurgencies, and millionaire melodramas.
These stories unfold across the site’s fertile, farmed fields, its replica fruit orchard, paddocks full of livestock, and numerous historic buildings: the 18th-century capilla (or chapel), a Victorian cottage, the river house built (but never used) to accommodate the Dalai Lama, and a small art gallery. However, the highlight at Los Luceros is its grand hacienda, a traditional two-story, 5,700 sq ft ranch house that dates back to around 1775.
Today, Los Luceros welcomes folks to roam the lush property and experience its rich cultural heritage through guided tours, art exhibits, and dawn-til-dusk special admission days. “It’s not just a pretty place where people come to take a walk, although that is a part of the modern history,” Carly happily concedes. “The historical significance of this place to so many people is incredible.”
Oh, and about those ghost stories: join Charlotte, Carly, and Rebecca in episode two for tales of spooky happenings and eerie sightings at Los Luceros just in time for Halloween.
Learn more about this fascinating historical site and plan your visit at Los Luceros. Dawn-til-dusk days are the first Sunday of every month.
Carly Stewart, Site Manager, Los Luceros Historic Site
“All of this history continuously happened at Los Luceros, and so it is just such a vast land that holds so much importance to so many different people.”
“That is something that I think is so unique and special about this place is that no matter where you are from, you can find something to connect with at Los Luceros.”
“One of the most important parts––and why we love Los Luceros so much––is, of course, the history. But, for me, it’s really about how people connect to it now and how it affects them today.”
Rebecca Ward, Instructional Coordinator, Los Luceros Historic Site
“And of course, according to Spanish colonial laws, she (Maria Marta Lucero) could inherit, but her brothers or even her male cousins could have legally come in and taken the land grant from her. I can only imagine that this is a prime piece of real estate… why not try to snatch some land from your female cousin if you can?”
“They [the Wheelwright Museum] also focus a lot of their efforts on modern native artists to really show that native people are thriving cultures and they’re here. They’re not part of the Natural History Department. They are living cultures.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Transcripts coming soon!
Visit https://newmexicoculture.org for info about our museums, historic sites, virtual tours and more.
Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.
Hosted by Charlotte Jusinski, Editor at El Palacio Magazine
Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Executive Producer: Daniel Zillmann
Show Notes: Lisa Widder
Associate Editor: Helen King
Production Support: Alex Riegler
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava
Instagram: @newmexicancultureFor more, visit podcast.nmculture.org.