The "Oldest" House
215 East de Vargas Street
The origins of this house seem to be lost, but for more than a century tradition has called it the oldest house in Santa Fe. It was labeled the "oldest building" in the city on the Stoner map of 1882, and the Urrutia map of 1766-68 shows a structure near the San Miguel Chapel in the approximate position of this house. Tree-ring specimens, taken from some of the vigas in the ceilings of the lower rooms, show cutting dates of 1740-67.
On July 31, 1881, the house, although not specifically mentioned in deeds of title, was sold for $3,000 by Bishop Lamy to the Brothers of the Christian Schools, popularly known as the Christian Brothers, with the San Miguel Chapel and other property. For decades this house was included in descriptions pertaining to the area immediately surrounding the San Miguel Chapel.
The house had two stories in nineteenth-century photographs and paintings. In 1902 when the building was badly in need of repair, the second story was removed. The house remained a one-story structure until about a quarter of a century later, when a new second story was added. Presently, the eastern portion is rented as a curio shop, while the western part remains a unique remnant of the type of building once prevalent in the city–part Indian, part Spanish, low-ceilinged and crude, with dirt floors and thick adobe walls.