"In the Midst of a Loneliness":
The Architectural History of the Salinas Missions
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This study of the structural history of the Salinas missions has generated a number of recommendations for further study and structural changes. The structural recommendations will be included in future architectural data studies. Most of the structural changes suggested will be intended to remove various elements of non-historical stonework that have been added in error and to reduce the amount of maintenance by getting rid of potential problems.

The recommendations presented in this report address areas needing further structural and historical study. Many of the suggestions concern the nineteenth century structures standing at the Abó and Quarai units of the National Monument that have not been included in any detailed planning.


Further Study

1. When they have been acquired by the National Park Service, Historic Structure Reports must be written on the two plazuelas, the Lucero House and the North House (the second surviving only as foundations at grade) on the Gonzales property. These structures are a previously unrecognized but important part of the story of Quarai's occupation and reoccupation. The Lucero House will require stabilization, and therefore must have a structural history to serve as a guide for the repair work. The North House should be cleared of brush and grass and its foundations traced in order to have a full plan of the building and its surrounding enclosure. It may need to be stabilized as a ruin.

2. Change the interpretation of the ruins, including signage and trail guides. The 1830 chapel foundations should be interpreted as part of the record of the reoccupation of the land east of the Manzanos and should be used as one illustration of the ties between Quarai and the Manzano settlement effort.

3. A moderately technical guide booklet should be available for purchase at the visitor center. It should be written for those visitors who want to get a little more deeply into the history and uses of the buildings (including the plazuelas and the terraced fields), and the history of the immediate area. These details are beyond those that a simple trail guide, signage, or the limited time of an interpreter can supply and are presently unavailable.

4. The management documents for Quarai should be changed to incorporate the changed significance of the site. The new significance statement should emphasize: 1) the role played by Quarai in the reoccupation of the land east of the Manzanos in the nineteenth century, and 2) Quarai as the record of a fortified ranching and farming complex built in the early nineteenth century. The second point is of national significance, because Quarai preserves in an almost unaltered condition (except for deterioration and some changes by the Gonzales family after 1900) a plazuela or fortified ranch complex of the nineteenth century reconquest of the frontiers of New Mexico, a critical part of the nineteenth-century settlement of the Southwestern United States. Such a fortified complex is very rare: few survive in the United States and no other examples are in the hands of the National Park Service.

Structural Changes

1. Stabilize the two plazuelas. This should include the removal of recent additions to the Lucero House, a cleanup of the grounds and the removal of brush and grass. These actions are necessary to prevent the collapse of the surviving walls of the Lucero House, and to help preserve the foundations of both houses. The metal roof should be removed from the Lucero house, and any surviving woodwork of the original roofing, doorways, windows and other details preserved or replaced in kind. Samples of any roofing vigas or other wood should be dated by tree-ring analysis.

2. If a drainage system is installed at Quarai similar to that installed at Abó, great care should be taken in excavation and recording of the trenches. No excavations have gone below the floor levels seen by Ely except in the areas discussed in the chapter on archeology at Quarai. It is likely that the church and convento were built on a pueblo ruin, and any excavations below floor level in the church and convento could encounter these ruins.


Further Study

1. Historic Structure Reports must be prepared on the nineteenth century buildings at Abó in order to plan an effective stabilization program for these buildings.

2. Change the interpretation of the ruins to include the first church, the Spanish compound west of the church, and the nineteenth century buildings.

3. A guide booklet should be prepared for the visitor who is interested in more detail on the history of the mission and the area.

4. Change the significance statement of the site to include the nineteenth century houses.

Structural Changes

1. After the preparation of a Historic Structure Report on the nineteenth-century buildings at Abó, remove recent additions and stabilize the buildings. They are an important part of the resources of Salinas National Monument.

2. Build up the outline of the apse of the first church within the nave of the second.


1. A guide booklet should be prepared for the visitor who is interested in more detail on the history of the mission and the area.

2. Excavation of the pueblo mounds north of San Buenaventura would be very informative. If for any reason there is to be disturbance of these mounds, any required excavations should include in its research design an examination of the possibility that they were built by the Spaniards or by Christian Indians.

3. Mound 21 has a plan strongly reminiscent of a Spanish structure with an enclosed patio. If any disturbance of this structure should take place, the research design for the archeology should investigate the possibility that the structure was built by Spaniards.

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Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006