Two blocks south of the Plaza, along the Old Santa Fe Trail, is the De Vargas Street House - considered the Oldest House in North America. Resting on the foundations of an ancient Native American pueblo ( dated to circa 1200 CE), this building was once part of an area inhabited by Tano speaking tribes. Sometime around 1435, they abandoned the area to search for better water and fields. Don Juan de Orate came here in 1598, looking for a permanent settlement. With him were Tlaxcalan warriors who occupied the ancient pueblo area and named it "Barrio de Analco" (meaning "Neighborhood Across the Water"). During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Barrio was heavily damaged, resulting in the Tlaxcalans evacuating with the Spaniards. A few returned to the Barrio when the Spanish reconquered Santa Fe in 1692. Between 1709 and 1710, the "Oldest House" (which is now on the street named De Vargas) became the temporary residence of the Spanish Territorial Governor. Up until 1920, the De Vargas Street House had been continuously occupied by people representing all the cultures of Santa Fe. Originally, the building had two stories, but the upper floor deteriorated and was removed during 1902 renovations. Twenty-five years later, a new second story was added. In addition to being a great site to visit, admission to the house is free. This whole area was historically fascinating for us.
An 1894 sketch of the Barrio, with what looks like the San Miquel mission in the background.