Las Cruces, NM

Mesquite Historic District


Mesquite Historic District in Las Cruces, NMEl Camino Real Route in Las Cruces, NMThe Mesquite District is recognized as part of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the historic Spanish Intercontinental Royal Route from Mexico City to Santa Fe. This original town site is rich in both history and culture; with 22 of the original blocks still in existence and more than 20 families of the primary settlers continuing to live on their family properties.

The history of the Mesquite original town site starts with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the war between Mexico and the U.S. in 1848. Under this treaty, New Mexico became a U.S. territory and Doña Ana became an American village with U.S. Army troops stationed there to protect the Mesilla Valley from Apache raids. Doña Ana villagers feared newcomers would take their lands and ruin their way of life.

Mesquite Street in Las CrucesDon Pablo Meléndrez, the Mayor of Doña Ana, asked Lt. Delos Bennett Sackett to survey a town site further south which would become Las Cruces. As incentive, Don Pablo Meléndrez offered Doña Ana residents free town lots to those who agreed to relocate to this new town; 120 eager settlers camped in the brush shelters on land that would become the heart of Las Cruces. Under a large cottonwood near Griggs Avenue and Mesquite Street, families drew lots from a hat to determine the new properties each family would own.

Sunshine Grocery in Las CrucesPlotted out with rawhide ropes in 1849, the Mesquite District features many charming adobes painted in vibrant rainbow shades some which date to the founding of the town with many more are at least a century old. Some of the neighborhood's highlights include the Sunshine Grocery, the Nevarez House, and Barncastle House and store.

Jardin de Mesquite in Las CrucesIn the past few years, the Mesquite district site has started to undergo a revival with renovations of old adobes, the installation of the art projects such as the Jardín de Mesquite a tile art mural that depicts the history of the community and the Entrada del Sol, an archway in the eastern part of the district that was created by ceramic artist Glenn Schwaiger.

Phillips CME Chapel Church in Las Cruces, NMIn 2010, preservation work began on the Phillips CME Chapel Church, the first African-American church in Las Cruces that also served as a community center and school during segregation. Improvements to this area are due to the efforts of community residents, university and college staff, city leaders and law makers, as well as various organizations who have worked in collaboration to create a safer and thriving neighbourhood with a sense of identity.

A nice video of the Mesquite District can be found on YouTube.

Story courtesy: Faith Hutson

More Articles:

The History of Phillips Chapel


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