Nestled in the Barrio De Analco Historic District, lies the De Vargas Street House, one of the oldest buildings in America. It lies on part of the foundation of an ancient Indian Pueblo dating from around 1200 AD. A Tano speaking tribe once inhabited the pueblo, but sometime around 1435 AD they abandoned their village and moved south in search of water, better fields or hunting grounds.
In 1598, Don Juan de Onate led Spanish settlers into the area looking for a place to set up a permanent establishment. They were accompanied by Tlaxcalen Indian warrior auxiliaries. The group gravitated toward El Barrio de Analco around the time that La Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asisi was founded in 1608. It turns out the river met the needs of the Tlaxcalas. They had enough water to irrigate the cornfields to the south of the San Miguel Church and enough trout to feed the families.
The Indians of the Barrio de Analco suffered great losses during the Great Pueblo Rebellion. Their homes were sacked and burned, and survivors retreated across the river to join the Spaniards in defense of the village. Unfortunately, the defense was unsuccessful. The Spanish withdrew from the Villa with the Tlaxcalans, a few of which returned to Santa Fe after the reconquest by Don Diego de Vargas in 1692-93.
The "Oldest House" temporarily became the residence for the Spanish Territorial Governor Chacon Medina Salazar, Marquez de Penuela while the San Miguel Church was being repaired. By the late 1800s, genizaros or acculturated plains Indians such as the Apaches and Navajos, as well as the families of Spanish soldiers were living in the Barrio. Up until the 1920s the Oldest House was continually occupied by people representing all the cultures of Santa Fe.
Cover image by Thomson200 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.