Inside the Palace: Lesser-Known Stories

72-LS.1627See an intriguing update, below in blue.

On the heels of our recent honor by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we asked Curator Josef Díaz to offer some insider info about its early occupants.

Governor Luis de Rosas, 1637‑1641

Franciscan friars accused Rosas of encouraging the Pueblo Indians in their traditional religious practices to gain their favor and obtain trade goods. He opened warehouses and sweatshops in the Palace and amassed goods to sell in Chihuahua. In 1641, he was jailed by a pro-Franciscan faction, then murdered in his cell.

Governor Bernardo López de Mendizábal, 1659-1661

He and his wife, Doña Teresa Aguilera y Roche, oversaw an extensive remodel of the then-crumbling Palace, adding some 18 rooms, including new living quarters, a courtyard, a torreon and several storerooms.

One of the museum’s friends asked for more info about where the improvements might have been. We threw the question to archaeologist Cordelia Thomas Snow, one of the best experts on the Palace. Her answer: “Don’t we wish we knew; however, Jose Esquibel found hints in the Mendizable Inquisition documents that suggest the Mendizable apartments were located on the east side of the Government Palace. Those same documents also indicate there was an orchard to the east of the building. The problem is we don’t know the exact location of the Palace prior to the Revolt.  The 17th century foundations that have been uncovered in and adjacent to the building bear no relationship to the building we know as the Palace.”

The mystery continues!

Juan Bautista de Anza, 1778-1787

One of his most unusual accomplishments was capturing and shipping five elk to King Carlos II for his private game reserve in Madrid, Spain.

Governor Joaquín del Real Alencaster, 1805-1808

In October 1806, he sent troops to intercept Americans illegally entering Spain’s territory. They arrested Zebulon Montgomery Pike on the Conejos River. During the few days he was held in Santa Fe, Pike enjoyed a dinner at the Palace, writing that it “was rather splendid, having a variety of dishes and wines of the southern provinces, and when his excellency was a little warmed with influence of cheering liquor, he became very sociable.”

Image above: Lantern slide of burros loaded with firewood in front of Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1915-1926 (?), by Edward Kemp. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives LS.1627.