De la Peña House
(Frank G. Applegate House)
831 El Caminito (private residence)
Noted for its early nineteenth-century Spanish Pueblo architecture on both the exterior and interior, this house was occupied for almost eighty years by the de la Peña family, for whom Calle Peña was named. The Historic American Building Survey of 1941, edited by the National Park Service, lists the house as one of the eight Santa Fe buildings of historical importance to the United States, and photographs of it taken in 1937 are in the Library of Congress.
The earliest date of record for the property is May 3, 1845, when it was sold by Tomás de Jesús Lópcz to Sergeant Francisco de la Peña for 114 pesos. It was described as a piece of farmland with a "house of four rooms and a portal situated in said land." The original east portal, which contains a shepherd's bed, is now an enclosed room. The property transfer of 1845 subsequently involved "agricultural land" and referred to numerous acequias on or bordering the property. None of these runs today.
Sergeant de la Peña was a regular army soldier who served in the presidential companies of both Santa Fe and San Miguel before being mustered out June 18, 1846. He was with the military force that negotiated a peace treaty with the Navajo in 1835 and participated in two campaigns against the Indians, as well as one against the Texas Expedition of 1841 for which he received the Shield of Honor award. When Francisco de la Peña died in 1887, he left his wife, Isabelita Rodríguez de la Peña, and eight children. After her death the property was divided in 1909 among the six surviving children, each receiving a portion of the land, six vigas of the house, and free entrance and exit to it. Two daughters were still living there in 1925.
In 1925 and 1926 Frank Applegate purchased the house and land from the surviving Peña heirs. He enlarged the house, built the second story, and had the beam, which was on the front portal, raised to that level and a copy of it installed on the first floor portal. Authentic details incorporated into the house at that time were Spanish Colonial balconies, taken from an old building, three old New Mexican alacenas built into the walls, squared beams, and corbels. Some of the walls are three feet thick in the four original rooms, two of which are combined in the present living room.
Applegate, who died in 1931, was a well-known writer and artist and one of the first leaders in Santa Fe to take a major interest in local crafts. He and the writer Mary Austin were active in organizing a group that provided funds for the repair of the church at Las Trampas and the mission churches of Acoma, Laguna, and Zia. The group also purchased the Santuario de Chimay6, then a private chapel, and after restoring it, gave it to the Catholic Church.
ln addition to his other accomplishments, Applegate had architectural training and was a leader in the movement among artists who came to Santa Fe in the 1910s and 1920s to develop an architecture based on Spanish Colonial and Pueblo Indian traditions. He designed renovations of several other old dwellings, designed new ones, and helped other artists, most notably those called Los Cinco Pintores, design and build traditionally styled adobe houses. His work was characterized by exceptional diversity and attention to detail and helped to define the Spanish Pueblo Revival style.