Life on the Mesilla Plaza

December 15, 2016 raguirre

Mesilla Plaza

When experienced historical home renovator Cliff Schlothauer moved into one of Mesilla’s most well-known residences, the Don Rafael Bermudez House, it was in need of a little sprucing up. The iconic adobe, situated right across from Josefina’s Old Gate and just behind the San Albino Church, is on the national registry of historic places. It stretches almost an entire block and is the last traditional hacienda-style house remaining in Mesilla.

The adobe home was originally built in 1853 by Don Rafael, a merchant, tax collector, and farmer. It was used as a fortress during Apache raids, with men walking the parapets while the women and children hovered inside.

The adobe home was originally built in 1853 by Don Rafael, a merchant, tax collector, and farmer. It was used as a fortress during Apache raids, with men walking the parapets while the women and children hovered inside.

Today, life in modern Mesilla on the plaza is much more vibrant with festivals, shops, and some of the best restaurants in the valley just steps from this property’s doors. “This caliber of home is rarely available in Mesilla. It’s the perfect home for someone who wants to live a different lifestyle, not in suburbia. You can walk outside and meet people from all over the world who have come to Mesilla for the history. It’s like European living, and it’s a way of life that’s very unique in this part of the country,” Cliff says.

When he purchased the property just over five years ago, Cliff envisioned restoring it to its former glory, preserving all the original details and infusing it with authentic Mexican touches along the way. He hired longtime friend, contractor, architect, and artist Carlos Estrada Vega to help.

They returned the exterior of the building to its authentic white-washed adobe. On the inside, they painted over the garishly colored walls with a “moodier” version of that same white wash. Cliff had most of the French-style wooden windows rebuilt and for some he imported window panes from a factory in Chihuahua City that has been making the unique glass pattern since 1880. The opaque windows let in plenty of light, but also provide extra privacy from the heavy foot traffic around the plaza. Cliff put thought into all aspects of this home, from the custom doors to the heavy brass door knocker, originally belonging to a mid-range official’s home in central Mexico in the 1850’s.

Mesilla PlazaOriginal wood lintels above the doorways and hand-stripped cottonwood vigas span the length of each room. “There’s an old Spanish saying that you don’t build your home until you have your vigas,” Cliff explains. The home boasts stunning architectural features. Most of the flooring is fir imported from Mexico, original to the home. Despite its age, Cliff says the wood flooring is in excellent shape with nary a squeak. The flooring in the kitchen is golden oak from the 1880s.

The house may be historic, but the kitchen is all modern convenience with brand new appliances, high-end granite countertops, a limestone backsplash, and new walnut cabinetry. “Even in the short time I’ve lived here the cabinets have mellowed out and become even more beautiful” Cliff says. A restored 100 year old light fixture found in a farmhouse in Kansas is affixed to one of the vigas in the dining area. Beautiful talavara tile has been added throughout the home to the thick window sills, baseboards, and in the courtyard.

“This is a true courtyard style home,” Cliff says. “The courtyard is completely enclosed, surrounded on all sides by the home. It’s a great place to sit out and have morning coffee or for entertaining.” They gave the courtyard authentic Mexican charm with bright fiesta-inspired colors and intricate brickwork. One of the large covered areas has a beautiful soft blue patina, done by hand, with talavara tile accents continued in-between the rafters. They continued the design with cantera stone statues, a large talavera light fixture, and a fountain from Mexico. Carlos custom built tables and a buffet specially designed for this space that are included in the sale of the home.

Mesilla PlazaThere are multiple entrances into the courtyard from all over the property, making it the true heart of the home. It has a small bonus room with a sink that could easily be converted into a workshop or kitchen for outdoor entertaining. There’s also direct access from the courtyard out onto one of main plaza side streets.

While Cliff lives comfortably in the south end of the adobe, the property is actually much bigger. All together it’s over 3,500 square feet, with 1,800 of that taking advantage of the property’s historical/residential/commercial zoning. The commercial space boasts red cedar flooring and includes one three quarter bath and a half bath along with a kitchenette with cabinetry custom built by Carlos. It’s currently rented out to a well-established retail shop and, with that added income, a new owner could live in the coveted Mesilla area at a very reasonable price.

In fact, Cliff says living right in the heart of the charming and historic Mesilla village is one of the best parts of the home. His windows overlook the hustle and bustle of the streets off the plaza, Josefina’s Old Gate, and the San Albino church and he says he’s whiled away many days enjoying the life happening around him. “You have the church and Josefina’s gate and tourists resting their feet on the benches right outside my door,” he says. “I live my life by the chime of the church bells. I watch the priests coming and going and the nuns scurrying about. I see the festivities, the baptisms, and the weddings. Mesilla is very active and the church is a true community church. Life is very interesting and you can really just enjoy it all right at home.”

The post Life on the Mesilla Plaza appeared first on Las Cruces Magazine.

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