IN THE PRESENCE OF THE PAST The Palace of
the Governors in Santa Fe, N.M., reveals a rich history
DIANA MIREL IS
WRITER FOR JPM.
THIS ARTICLE TO
THE EXTERIOR OF
THE PALACE ON
THE NORTH END
OF THE SANTA FE
A SHADY PORTAL WHERE
GATHER DAILY TO
© BlAiR ClARK,
Cul TuRAl AffAiRS
knOwn FOr its cultural diversity and renOwned art cOMMunities, New Mexico has a rich and dynamic
history worthy of its state slogan, “Land of
Enchantment.” Standing as a witness to the
state’s history is the Palace of the Governors in
Santa Fe, N.M.
Throughout its 400-year history, the Palace
of the Governors has evolved with the region.
Built in 1609, it is the nation’s oldest continuously occupied government building, and it has
served as a museum for the past 101 years.
The adobe building and its surrounding
plaza originally served as the home and admin-
istrative center for the governor. While it was
built as the Casas Reales, or “royal house,” the
governor in 1659 began referring to the prop-
erty as a palace–and thus was born the name
“Palace of the Governors.”
While the term palace suggests wealth and
luxury, the palace was never opulent. Although
governors brought their finest household
furnishings, the space itself was austere and
serviceable. It was set up as a complex of liv-
ing and administrative rooms, as well as store
houses–with a military function added in the
18th century, according to Frances Levine,
Ph.D., director of Palace of the Governors and
the New Mexico History Museum.