“The building of homes with adobe is a centuries-old tradition in the state of New Mexico, long preceding the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. The indigenous peoples of New Mexico had used earth for their dwellings for centuries, and the later Spanish arrivals were quick to adapt the indigenous earth-building techniques to their own purposes. Looking back at New Mexico’s building history, adobe was the obvious choice in rural areas and in smaller communities where people did not have the more substantial budgets of the larger cities. Partly because of this very availability, adobe is considered by many to be a poverty material that will wash away with the first rain. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is often forgotten that when the United States was dealing with the economic depression of the 1930’s, the federal government sponsored adobe home-building project in several locations across the country. One outstanding example was at Bosque Farms, a small farming community a few miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The community was established to help relocate farm families devastated by the droughts that created the “Great Dust Bowl” of northern New Mexico, west Texas and Oklahoma.
A portion of a 28,000-acre tract of land, originally part of the holdings of Don Soloman Luna (Los Lunas, NM), was divided into 43 tracts of 40 to 80 acres each. On May 2, 1935, a public drawing was held, and the tracts were sold to the winners of the drawing for $140 per acre. The purchasers had 40 years to pay the government back for their land. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) then cleared the land and built homes for the new land-owners. These homes were first leased and later sold to the occupants. Few details are available on how the construction was actually accomplished, but it is likely that local people, and probably many of the future occupants themselves, were hired to construct the houses of Bosque Farms.”
Architect Paul G. (Buzz) McHenry has more than 30 years of professional experience working with adobe and has published several well-known books on adobe construction.
Source text and image: Arid Lands Newsletter