Crocker Ltd, Santa Fe, New Mexico


Structural Underpinning

Wall Stabilization & Repair

Historic Plasters & Finishes

Drainage Systems


International Services



Staff & Licenses

Awards & Citations


Recommended Reading


Contact Us


Capabilities Statement


Selected Projects: Historic Preservation

Statement of Qualifications


    Understanding Adobe

Architectural Conservation  
2019 Galisteo Street, Suite N-10 A  
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505  
505/ 982.2448  •  877/ 982.2448  

Where's the Village?
Ed Crocker

Not so long ago, following a panel discussion on different views of historic preservation at a national conference, my colleague Shalie Gasper, made a profound observation that helps us understand vernacular architecture. The comment came after presentations by three panelists, which I moderated, and that included representatives of the Hispanic community, the Rio Grande Pueblos and the western Pueblos. The purpose was to explore whether a "one size fits all" set of standards and guidelines could be applied to conserving architecture and monuments as diverse as, say, the Lincoln Memorial and the Snow Clan house at Hopi.

Readers of this column know that I believe the Secretary of Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Buildings (the accepted guidelines upon which funding, tax credits and nominations to the National Register of Historic Places are based) do not work when applied to vernacular, or "home grown" architecture. The Panel agreed that standards need to be more sensitive to regional and even local needs. One idea was to derive a set of codicils to the SOI's Standards that specifically respects non-architect-designed buildings and clusters. Shalie, a native of Zuni Pueblo, took a different approach and eloquently brought home an entirely new point.

Her words are paraphrased from the transcript:

I want to put into my own words the things that I'm hearing coming from the panel and from the audience. . . .  I think that because there's too little respect for history in the general culture, and because change is so rapid, the historic preservation movement has perhaps gone too far; we tend to want to freeze things and hold onto them too tightly. I got the sense from the panel that we want standards but we want them to reflect the preservation philosophy that incorporates the sensibilities of living cultures and living buildings. That isn't a category that "brings them into the circle" but that has the potential of confusing our broader, national approach to preservation.
Growing up as a young person on the Zuni Reservation, I find it very difficult because as native peoples we are supposed, and everybody in the macro society is expecting us, to become modernized. But when we do become modernized they complain that we've become too modernized. I often find myself at the museum and people come in and ask, "where's the village?" Well, it's down the road. But when they see it, they're, like, that's not the village -- we're looking for what was in the photo. And then they see all these mobile homes along the reservation they are disappointed again and condescend to say, "well it's such a shame that they're living in mobile homes, their culture is dying."
My words to you are that just because we're living perhaps in a new house, or we're living in a frame house, or a mobile home, doesn't mean that who we are as people is lost; it's just the roof we have chosen to live under. I work with a lot of old people as well as younger people and when I talk to them about it, they find themselves in this difficult position of being frowned upon for becoming too modern. In the 20th Century? We need to find the balance.

Shalie asked a profound question, "what defines us, our houses or the way we practice our culture?" All minority cultures face distinct challenges. Zuni identity is alive and remarkably healthy despite the change in architecture. Witness only the purity of the ceremonial cycle that has not faltered or failed.

Crocker Ltd
2019 Galisteo Street, Suite N-10 A  •  Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
tel 505/ 982.2448  •  fax 505/ 995.9877
toll free 877/ 982.2448

Helical Piers  |  Micropiles  |  Wall Stabilization & Repair  |  Historic Plasters & Finishes  |  Drainage Systems
Consulting  |  International Services  |  Projects  |  Awards & Citations
Articles  |  Contact Us  |  Staff & Licenses  |  Home
Moisture Remediation for Your Home