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Notes on the Geography of The Western United States: Santa Fe: Photo 4

world pictures The Western United States: Santa Fe

We're on the approximately north side of the plaza and looking at the portal of the palacio real (1610), or royal palace, now known as the Palace of the Governors. You may want it to be the 17th century original, but it was finished in 1909 and was the work jointly of Jesse Nusbaum, who later was superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park, and of Sylvanus Morley, who later helped reconstruct the Maya ruins at Chichen Itza.

Under the auspices of the Archaeological Institute of America, which took over the palace when the federal government considered it a hopeless ruin, Nusbaum and Morley peeled away a bric-a-brac balustrade and metal roof that had been added in 1877. They threw out what they considered to be the insufficiently massive, square-sawn posts that held up the portal. They replaced them with these columnar trunks, inspired by a column that Nusbaum found buried in an adobe wall. The result was an idealized version of the palace, far grander than anything known to the governors. It's earnestly authentic, but it's a fantasy right down to the adobe walls, which are actually brick and painted stucco.

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