Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Old Adobe

Snow Road, west of Mesilla, NM.

Very few old adobe ruins like this still exist.  Most of them have been bulldozed back into the dirt from which they came.  Notice the lack of windows.  Glass was expensive back then, and windows were considered a luxury.

It's unusual to have the opportunity to enter an old house like this, so we availed ourselves of it.  This shot shows the shadows of the vigas and latillas on the back wall, which is on the verge of collapse.

Here's a well-preserved section of ceiling showing the large vigas, and the smaller latillas.  It looks like they laid yucca leaves on top of the latillas.  On top of that they would have put dirt.  This would have worked well to shed brief summer showers, but the roof probably would have leaked during heavy winter rains, which can last for a day or more.  Waterproof membranes (like sheets of plastic) were unvailable back then. 

The interior wall was covered with mud plaster and whitewashed.  The house is slowly eroding.  This is the pattern the eroding mud makes as it runs down the wall in rainy weather.

Eventually this house will be torn down as a "safety hazard," which it no doubt is.  Another piece of history will disappear.  But all is not lost:  there are doubtless other old adobes like this one which were maintained over the years and are still willing to share their secrets with anyone who cares to ask.