Edwin Brooks House
553 Canyon Road (private residence)
Artist William Penhallow Henderson created this house by remodeling and enlarging an old adobe that had been purchased by his son-in-law, John Evans, in 1923. Shortly after his marriage, Evans, who was the son of Taos's Mabel Dodge Luhan, formed the Flying Heart Development Corporation and purchased this property from James Baca. Baca, the grandson of James L. Johnson, had purchased the property in 1918. Before that it had been owned by the Moya family for many years. James Baca also owned his grandfather's property, El Zaguán, which is located immediately west of the Brooks House.
Henderson and his wife, poet Alice Corbin, came to New Mexico from Chicago in 1916. Founding members of Santa Fe's art colony, they were for many years among its guiding spirits. In addition to producing well-received easel paintings and murals, Henderson became an active participant in the movement to revive adobe architecture.
ln 1926 Henderson formed the Pueblo Spanish Building Company with Edwin Brooks as a minor shareholder. Among his best-known architectural commissions were the remodeled SENA PLAZA and the Wheelwright Museum. In the mid-1920s he also began to design furniture based on Spanish Colonial originals that local artisans hand-built for him. For the Brooks House, Henderson provided architectural designs and also served as building contractor, using only native workmen and artisans. A second story was added, creating the most striking feature of the interior—the two-story living room and balcony. Throughout the house, there is an abundance of hand-adzed wood used for such elements as large supporting beams, massive exposed lintels, and the staircase to the second floor. Examples of carved wood are found in balustrades and decorative wooden grilles in front of radiators. In addition, each room has built-in furniture made of hand-adzed wood.
Edwin Brooks bought the property in 1928 and lived in the house from 1931 until 1937. Although not an artist himself, he was active in artistic circles, particularly the Little Theatre, as was his wife, Virginia Morley. The subsequent history of the house included several changes of ownership until it was rented and then purchased in 1963 by Fremont Ellis. An early member of the art colony and one of the group of painters known as Los Cinco Pintores in the early 1920s, Ellis lived in the house for nearly thirty years until his death in 1985. It remains in the Ellis family today.