- Barela-Reynolds House - J.Paul Taylor House -- Hispanic Heritage Month -- National Register of Historic Places Official Website--Part of the National Park Service
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Barela-Reynolds House
(J. Paul Taylor House)

National Hispanic Heritage Month
September 15-October 15, 2008

Exterior shots of the Barela-Reynolds House
Photo courtesy of the New Mexico State Monuments

One of several historic buildings facing the famous plaza in Mesilla, New Mexico, the Barela-Reynolds House, also known as the J. Paul and Mary Taylor Property and proclaimed the Taylor-Barela-Reynolds-Mesilla State Monument by the governor of New Mexico, is an excellent example of a combined store and residence. This type of structure was common in 19th century New Mexico towns and villages. The property is a large, rambling one-story adobe structure on the west side of the historic plaza. The site itself is overshadowed on the north by the spires of the Roman Catholic Basilica of San Albino.
It was originally constructed as two small store fronts on adjoining 60’x 300’ lots with extensive residential quarters and outbuildings to the rear. The oldest portions of the Taylor property were constructed around 1850 and were significantly refurbished in 1903. Drawing on a long New Mexico architectural tradition which made defense from American Indian attack the foremost consideration, the first structures erected on the Mesilla plaza had contiguous facades and were placed on long, narrow solares de casas (house lots) to make maximum use of the limited plaza frontage available. The living areas, often separated from the store fronts by patios or placitas and connected by zaguanes (covered passages), were built in front of a jumble of stables, corrals, granaries and warehouses usually enclosed in the rear by a high adobe wall.

[graphic] photo
Interior of main entrance to the Taylor house – El Zaguán (Entrance Hall) (above)
Oratorio (chapel) – traditional Hispanic homes sometimes included a family chapel (below)
Photo courtesy of the New Mexico State Monuments

First official settlement of the area around “la Mesilla,” as the town was originally known, followed the occupation of New Mexico by U.S. Army troops under Brigadier-General Stephen Watts Kearny in the summer of 1846. To accommodate those New Mexicans who preferred to retain Mexican citizenship, a land grant was made by the Republic of Mexico on the west bank of the Rio Grande which had been accepted as the boundary between the two nations by the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. The grant was partitioned by a commissioner appointed by the Mexican government. Padre Ramón Ortiz, the first commissioner was soon replaced by a former citizen of Santa Fe, Guadalupe Miranda. The area soon became part of the United States as a result of the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, but the property rights of the grantees were recognized by the U.S. government. Among the early settlers was Pedro Pérez whose title to Solar de Casa, now the south portion of the Taylor Property, was confirmed in 1854 by Miranda who continued to act as commissioner of the grant after the Gadsden Purchase. Although the chain of title to the north portion is less clear, by 1857 it was in the possession of Mariano Yrissari, a prominent trader and sheep rancher from near Albuquerque. In the same year Pérez and his wife Ysidra García sold his house and lot to two Anglo traders, Charles A. Hoppin, originally from Rhode Island, and German-born Nathan B. Appel. Despite his New England birth Hoppin was a strong supporter of the Confederate cause and in 1861 served as Clerk of Probate Court when the Confederate government in Arizona held its only court session in Mesilla. His partner was later prominent at Tubac and Tucson in southern Arizona and was the elected representative of Pima County in the first Arizona Territorial legislature. Although Hoppin and Appel continued to do business in Mesilla they sold their plaza location in 1859 to a former competitor, Alexander Duval.

Photo courtesy of the New Mexico State Monuments

In the early 1860’s the Civil War brought a period of turmoil and uncertainty to Mesilla, by then a town of 2,500 people. 300 Confederate troops commanded by Colonel John R. Baylor marched up the Rio Grande from Fort Bliss, Texas in July, 1861, and entered Mesilla amid “vivas and hurrahs” from the populace. For the next year the town remained under secessionist control until the complete evacuation of New Mexico was necessitated by the destruction of the Confederate supplies and material at Glorieta Pass east of Santa Fe in March 1862. Shortly before the conflict began Yrissari, who had been conducting a lucrative commissary business with the U.S. Army forts around Mesilla, sold his plaza headquarters to María Rafaela García Barela, wife of Anastacio Barela who was also engaged in freighting and merchandising.

Anastacio Barela was serving as a probate judge of Doña Ana County. He also held office in the Confederate regime and was captain of a volunteer militia raised in 1861 for service against the Apaches. After Barela’s death in the mid-1860’s his business interests were carried on by his son Mariano who for many years also held the position of sheriff and collector of Doña Ana County. The younger Barela maintained a store in his mother’s building on the plaza, a property which she continued to own until 1903.

[graphic] photo A Bed Room
Photo courtesy of the New Mexico State Monuments

In 1863, after the Confederate departure and the restoration of a degree of tranquility to the Mesilla area, the Duval home and store was purchased by a new partnership known as Griggs and Reynolds. Former civilian employees of the U.S. Army, James Edgar Griggs and Joseph Reynolds had gained knowledge of the military supply business by working as clerks at Fort Filmore, south of Mesilla and Fort Craig. Married to sisters from a Mexican family, the partners succeeded in building a flourishing mercantile business in southern New Mexico. Following Griggs’ death in a buggy accident in 1877 Joseph Reynolds continued the enterprise which was in turn taken over by his son William Charles Reynolds. In an important expansion of his Mesilla business William Charles Reynolds purchased the adjoining Barela property in 1903, thus uniting the two segments of the present Taylor property. Unfortunately, due to financial losses, the Taylor property was granted to Father Juan Grange of San Albino’s Roman Catholic Church in 1913. Used as a rectory until his death in 1937, the property passed to the housekeeper, Mrs. Perla Aladib by terms of the priest’s will. With her mother, Mrs. Valentina McCunniff, Mrs. Aladib had first come to Mesilla about 1910 from the Chihuahua community of Janos, two refugees from the first convulsions of the Mexican revolution. Given employment by Father Grange, Mrs. Aladib rented apartments in the home to increase her income. In 1951 Mr. and Mrs. Taylor made the first of four purchases from Mrs. Aladib and began their careful restoration program of the property.

Parlor –with portraits of Taylor's ancestors
Photo courtesy of the New Mexico State Monuments

Since its first construction the façade of the Taylor property has been composed of two shops separated by a zaguán (covered passage) which leads to the living quarters in the rear. The front wall of the building which extends above the zaguán is covered with cement plaster over the original adobe bricks and is topped by a triangular parapet with a brick coping. The triangle, a characteristic feature of the Greek Revival Style whose most prominent aspects were adapted in New Mexico to create “Territorial Style,” is repeated in the pedimented lintels which cap the two doorways and two windows. All the doors and windows have deep reveals to accommodate them to the thick adobe walls and were obviously installed during a time in which glass and lumber were in short supply. In contrast, the area used as a curio shop south of the zaguán, with its stamped metal front and metal bracketed cornice, is a product of another era.

The J. Paul and Mary Taylor Property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on January 20, 1978. J. Paul and the late Mary Helen Daniels Taylor donated the property to the state of New Mexico in September 2003. It has been declared the Taylor-Barela-Reynolds-Mesilla State Monument by the State of New Mexico and will eventually be open to the public.

Full documentation on the Barela-Reynolds House.
Historic Documentation Program (HABS/HAER/HALS) has also featured the Mesilla Plaza
More information on New Mexico State Monuments




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