Written by CHARLOTTE TALLMAN Photography by DONICIO MADRID
It is the calming wave of peace that you first feel when you enter the private sanctuary that surrounds this underground home—a home with a unique story deeper than many have.
A story that begins with one man and ends with his legacy.
Architect Duane Dorsey moved to Las Cruces in 1962, bringing with him a creative vision that he soon implemented at New Mexico State University as the first University Architect. From 1967 until he retired in 1988, Duane played a key role in the look, feel, and effectiveness of NMSU’s buildings and grounds. Taking careful consideration of the current needs at the time, as well as future possibilities, Duane became a respected member of the University and the community.
“He was such a remarkable man,” says Margie Leiser, a long-time family friend and aunt, by marriage, to Duane’s children. “He was a very humble man, yet so creative and talented. I just can’t put into words what an amazing vision he had.”
In the mid 1970’s, Duane began considering the type of home he wanted to continue raising his daughters in with wife, Marilyn. Because of their uniqueness, dome-shaped homes were appealing to him, but concerns about the flaws in their designs swayed him from pursuing that type of construction. Wanting to stay true to his unique flair and his true dedication to an environmentally considerate home, he decided to dig deeper. He designed an underground home.
“He designed it and the whole family built it,” says Lisa Dorsey Darnold, who, years after helping her dad build their home, started Q-CAD, Inc. with him. Together they provided drafting services to architecture and engineering firms throughout the United States. The rest of the family included Lisa’s mom, and sisters Lynn Schultz, Cathy Dorsey, and Shawnna Slatten. “It was an amazing experience, but that was not surprising because my dad was involved. He was an incredible man in so many ways.”
Sadly, Duane passed away on June 18, 2017, leaving a feeling of loss among family, friends, and the community. He also left behind a home he had lived the rest of his life in, working on
it over the years to make it even more special than it originally was.
Exceptional is the legacy Duane left with the home
The 2,144 square foot zero-maintenance home is an energy-efficient home, some- thing that interested Duane from the beginning, even when it was not as a mature concept as it is today. Being a man ahead of his time was just one of Duane’s many endearing qualities.
But the home is more than energy-efficient. It is a private concrete structure sit- ting underground, surrounded by an oasis.
“The outside is so peaceful. People that come over say it is more like a park than a yard,” says Margie, who moved into the home after Duane passed away.
The oasis is enclosed by deeply colored shade and ornamental trees and various shrubberies and sage bushes. The drive onto the property, sitting on 2.9 acres, sets the stage for the peacefulness that trails along with every step taken, both on the grounds and within the house. That’s because Duane stayed true to the environment and natural surroundings.
“He really wanted the design of the interior and the outside area to be very peaceful,” Lisa says. “He was successful in doing that.”
Margie agrees, often choosing to have her coffee outdoors to enjoy the southwest light rise in the morning as she sits beneath the perfectly-placed shade trees. There she watches rabbits, roadrunners, and many birds that share the space. When the evenings cool down, Margie enjoys the wide-open sky- line as the red, orange, purple, and yellow hues of the setting sun paint the sky.
It is in that oasis that a rock pond and waterfall surrounded by low-water vegetation delivers the perfect space to relax. Sounds of the desert southwest mingle audibly with the trickling water. A court- yard, pergola, closed breezeway, and plenty of porch space provides entertaining opportunities for many when desired, or easily can be used for more intimate events with the family.
The path into the home is a series of wooden steps and beautifully colored brick accents that share the stage with more perfectly placed trees and bushes. By design, the inside continues to take on the outdoors with three atriums equipped with sliding glass doors that provide natural light to the kitchen, living room, and game room.
The three-bedroom, three-bath home contains a mix of lush carpet and neutral tiles, enhanced by the wooden custom-built cabinets and a traditional wood stove.
Priced at $445,700, additional highlights on the property include a 2,204 square-foot garage and workshop and recreational vehicle garage.
For Margie, living in the home Duane designed, and her dear family friends built, is an opportunity she is grateful for, something she often considers when she is in her favorite part of the house—the kitchen. There she bakes cookies, cakes, and sometimes makes candy, noting that both the kitchen, and the rest of the house, has plenty of room.
“There is nothing I would change about this house. It was designed by such an amazing and humble man and built by a wonderful family,” Margie says. “Everything about this home is beautifully planned out.”
ABOUT THIS HOME
u SQUARE FEET: 2,144 sq. ft.
u BEDROOMS: 3
u BATHROOMS: 3
u CURRENTLY OFFERED AT:
Underground Home, 2,144 sq. ft. Garage/Workshop, 2.9 Acres, Engineered Shade Structures, Pond and Waterfall, Blends with the Environment to Create a Natural Presence.
Sherry Eichorn 575-993-1944
Steinborn & Associates Real Estate 575-522-3698