Taos Style #5: Victorian

By 1879, the Queen Anne style, which had nothing to do with the queen for whom it was named, had already been vastly popular in the Eastern US for more than 20 years. When the railroad arrived in New Mexico that year, so did change. The rails made access to materials and labor quite a bit more manageable, so large expanses of glass, metal milled lumber, and milled and fabricated details became much more commonplace. With the introduction of the Queen Anne style into New Mexico came various infusions of Victorian style, including wrap-around porches like the one added to the green and white Walter Ufer House on Des Georges Lane just east of the Taos Plaza, shingle details, and pure Queen Anne details like those found on the Miramon House on the northeast corner of Morada Lane and Kit Carson. This was a particularly embraced fashion of building in the “Territories” as it encouraged individuation and experimentation with materials – two skills for which the territorialists were reknown.

Click here to see a listing of Queen Anne Architectural Traits

Those styles that are a hodge-podge of Victorian tastes are referred to by the State’s Historic Preservation Division as “Folk Victorian.” Other styles were introduced with the arrival of the railroad including Italianate and Romanesque. These did not have a major impact on Taos, excepting that some of the churches in the area were “modernized” to have to details of the Romanesque and Gothic Revivals popular in the East. This updating was dictated by the European-architecture enthusiast Bishop Lamy of Santa Fe, who was French and a franco-phile in every way, as was the mass of missionaries he brought to serve the peoples of his bishopdom.

Merchants and traders, as well as military service, had made some rich. Prospecting and other interests made others even richer. Affluence was demonstrated, and as happens, separations between the haves and have-nots became obvious in architecture as well as in life - elaborate lodges were built in the hunting and ranching areas and mansions erected in the cities. Taos, however, was not to be afforded such luxuries, being bypassed by the Cimmaron Cutoff at Fort Union after the Civil War, she was left to fend for herself and did not develop an elaborate or obvious class structure.