New Mexico History Museum

A Fragile Legacy: Earthen Architecture in New Mexico

March 02, 2016


Jake Barrow, acting executive director at Cornerstones Community Partnerships, speaks on “A Fragile Legacy: Earthen Architecture in New Mexico” at 6 pm on Friday, April 1. The lecture will compare and contrast the challenges of preserving earthen architecture using several case studies, including the evolution of the Palace of the Governors, a National Historic Treasure and one of the most visible adobe structures in the state. Barrow and other Cornerstones staff are participating with the museum on educational initiatives focusing on the preservation of New Mexico’s earthen architectural heritage.

This is a Free First Friday Evening event in the History Museum auditorium. Admission to the History Museum and Palace is free to everyone from 5–8 pm.

Starting in 1986, Cornerstones has inspired volunteers in communities throughout the state to help preserve endangered adobe structures, most notably churches. The Santa Fe–based nonprofit has since worked with communities at approximately 350 sites throughout the Southwest. Three of the most historic sites that Cornerstones helped preserve date to the 17th century—San Esteban del Rey in Acoma Pueblo; La Purisima Concepcion in Socorro, Texas; and San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe.

(In this Annie Sahlin image, community volunteers working with Cornerstones replaster the San Rafael Church in La Cueva, NM, in 1991. You can find more information about that project here: Download a high-res version of the photo by clicking here. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives HP.2013.12.047.)

Cornerstones has held numerous workshops at community sites to train youths and community members in traditional building techniques, including lime plastering and stained-glass repair. Cornerstones strives to include a youth training component in the process of making adobes, repairing walls, and mud plastering at hands-on preservation projects. In recent years, it has worked extensively with the National Park Service hosting stabilization and preservation workshops at various parks throughout the West.

As program director, Jake Barrow works to provide heritage preservation leadership and technical outreach services to communities. He specializes in wood, timber, log, stone and adobe preservation. Barrow joined Cornerstones in 2009 after retiring from a 30-year historic preservation career at the National Park Service. The majority of those years were spent in the Southwest focusing on earthen, stone and timber architecture, where he served as project manager and architectural conservator.

He earned a BFA from the University of North Carolina and his post-graduate studies include architectural conservation certificates from the International Center for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Rome and Venice. He is the 1996 recipient of the Appleman-Judd Award for Cultural Resource Stewardship in the National Park Service. He received the 2002 New Mexico Heritage Preservation Award and in 2015 the New Mexico Lifetime Achievement Heritage Preservation Award.

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