FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2023
Santa Fe, NM – How does New Mexico Historic Sites (NMHS) tell our state’s stories? There are a lot of resources at hand! Staff take their lead from the very land and structures managed by NMHS, but they also rely on public records, collections of photographs and documents, other kinds of historical research to help frame New Mexico’s stories, and living memory. It can sometimes be difficult to wrangle all that information—and even more so with history as far-reaching as Fort Stanton Historic Site’s. On its face, the site ought to inspire reflection—on New Mexico, the United States, public health, wartime, and more. The Fort is a perfect example of the kinds of stories NMHS exists to preserve and share. With the recent completion of a study focused on the Fort, NMHS has a firmer grasp on its preservation and interpretation needs.
Even under normal circumstances, historic preservation is no simple task. When NMHS brought Fort Stanton into the fold, it was clear from the start that addressing the Fort’s needs would not be easy or normal. It’s a knot of history—from the 1800s through the mid-1900s, it was a military outpost, a post office, a hospital several different times. There were obvious maintenance tasks throughout its early years as a site, and through capital outlay projects the state has been able to address many of its most pressing issues. But there was always a larger question: What is the story of Fort Stanton? How were each of the Fort’s 88 structures used differently across its history? What did the Germans who were interned on the site do while they were held there? What shade of green were the walls, really?
New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs needed time, resources, and the right partners to find answers to these questions. In 2022, NMHS, New Mexico Historic Preservation Division (NMHPD) and Sunmount Consulting worked together to produce a cultural landscape report on Fort Stanton. NMHPD has facilitated a handful of similar reports—on Santa Fe Plaza and Taos Plaza, for instance. A cultural landscape report is a comprehensive accounting of a place’s or a structure’s history, from the first brick laid to the present day. NMHPD and Sunmount Consulting left no stone unturned—the completed report on Fort Stanton is 955 pages, brimming with historical overviews, appraisals of the structures in the present day, and recommendations on how to preserve the Fort and better tell its story.
About New Mexico Historic Sites
New Mexico Historic Sites is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its donors. The New Mexico Historic Sites system was established in 1931 by an Act for the Preservation of the Scientific Resources of New Mexico. The eight Historic Sites include Coronado, Fort Selden, Fort Stanton, Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner Historic Site, Jemez, Lincoln, and Los Luceros.
About the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division
NMHPD manages, oversees, and coordinates historic preservation activities across the state. The division educates the public about historic preservation and protects thousands of historic and archaeological sites in New Mexico. If you have ever visited an archaeological site, stopped on the side of the road to read a historic marker, or appreciated a well-maintained historic building in your community, you have likely engaged with the work of the NMHPD.
“NM Historic Preservation Division is delighted to be part of the overall strategic planning for the Fort Stanton Historic Site by participating in the development of this new Cultural Landscape Report,” said Karla McWilliams, historian and grants program manager for NMHPD. “Fort Stanton is a critical historic site essential in understanding the history of New Mexico since the mid-1800s. We hope this report will provide the Department of Cultural Affairs with the necessary data to carry out what will be an exciting future for the Fort and Lincoln County.”
“This report is truly critical to the future of Fort Stanton,” said Patrick Moore, NMHS executive director. “With such a complex set of overlapping historical narratives over more than 170 years, this site has long needed a comprehensive plan to guide all our preservation and interpretation processes. NMDCA spent nearly $3.7 million on Fort Stanton last fiscal year, and we have more than $1.6 million budgeted in 2024. With this report finished, we will be able to spend that money in even smarter, more targeted ways. It’s an invaluable resource.”