On Halloween 2010, several dozen people got a special treat as the 160-year old Hubbell House at 6029 Isleta Blvd. in the South Valley opened its doors to the public to honor the past and celebrate the future.
“Today’s event is wonderful,” said De La Cruz. “This house would not be a part of the community, and when I say community, not only the local community, but our whole state community, if it hadn’t been for volunteer folks who absolutely believed that this could not be lost and turned into something commercial.”
The Parjarito Community Saves the Historic Property from Commercial Development
James Lawrence Hubbell and Julianita Gutierrez built the house around 1850 and raised 12 children, all of whom were born in the house.
In the late 1990s, developers wanted to turn the historic home into a restaurant and the surrounding 10 acres into an upscale residential subdivision. Neighbors fought the idea and formed the Committee to Preserve the Hubbell Property in 1997. After a mill-levee was approved by voters, Bernalillo County bought the land as part of the Parks and Recreation Department in 2000.
The committee then set up the Hubbell House Alliance (HHA), a nonprofit to raise money and maintain the property, starting with renovating the building as a living history museum.
John Chester, Hubbell House Alliance Board member, greeted visitors and explained some of the rich history of the property, which is located on the original Camino Real de Norte, the Royal Road of the North.
“They took full advantage of all the opportunities that that offered,” Chester explains that the connection to Mexico City and Chihuahua was basically the path that Onate took when he came north. “That was the commercial connection and as long as Spain owned this, all trade was done with Spain. That meant that that road was the lifeblood for buying, selling and getting anything.”
Today the land is being farmed again as part of the HHA mission to create a cultural and agricultural learning center. Workshops on sustainable farming methods and water conservation are held throughout the year and the Local Food Festival draws hundreds of people each summer.
Neighbors Remember the Hubbell Family
Board member Frances Ray grew up across the street from the Hubbell property and she remembers them as good neighbors.
“They would take the wagon over to a store on Broadway where everyone from the Valley used to go to buy groceries,” Ray says. “They would make sure when they came back they’d come back when we were getting out of school so we could ride in the back of the wagon.”
Ray has served on the board for five years. Board President Robert Trujillo says they are looking for more members.
“We’re always looking for more people, not necessarily South Valley residents, but anyone who has a real drive and interest and heart in historic places like this, is what we’re looking for, says Board President Robert Trujillo. “We’re looking for somebody that will be really dedicated that will bring their ideas and passion into a place like this.”
Beva Sanchez-Padilla, HHA resident manager, works with interns and students and invites others to come and enjoy the “jewel in the layered memory of the south valley” as trail walkers, weed pullers, story tellers and committee members.
The Property Grows Once Again
The 10 acres will soon be joined by six more acres, thanks to the efforts of Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz.
When De La Cruz, a former HHA board member, learned that six acres contiguous to the Hubbell property was for sale, he initiated the effort to buy and county staff moved the effort forward.
“I’m thrilled to say that’s it’s sold now to the county,” De La Cruz says, though the exact uses for the new land have not been determined.
“We are going to be asking the community what they would like us to do specifically,” De La Cruz says. “The only thing that will very likely happen there is at least a small part of the property, at least an acre or so, will be a little tree farm. The county has a great need for trees.”
Clay Campbell, Planning Manager with the Parks and Recreation Department says they are working on reacquiring the water rights. Campbell explained that the water rights were sold when commercial development was under way, but that they have found a family that will be selling some of their water rights.
“The transaction is being reviewed right now by the State Engineer’s office,” Campbell says. “It would be about a 16-acres feed, which was what was sold before and it would go into the well out there and we would have to do some irrigation improvements to get the water from the well to the fields.”