Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with the Records of the National Register of Historic Places

Today’s post is by John LeGloahec, Archivist in the Electronic Records Division at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

This post is part of an ongoing “road trip” featuring records from the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 – 2017 (National Archives ID 20812721), a series within Record Group 79: Records of the National Park Service.

Hispanic Heritage Select Photos (National Archives Identifier 6190413)

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 and many cultural institutions in the Washington, D.C. area join together to honor the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. The celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month is also reflected in the files of the National Register of Historic Places, which contains nearly 800 records with “Hispanic” as the primary search term and another 60 with “Latino.”

There is the Hispanic Society of America Complex (National Archives Identifier 75315972), which, “located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, . . . [is] an exemplary representation of a nationally significant shift in both attitudes toward Hispanic culture and understanding of Hispanic-American history in the United States and for its association with the nationally significant philanthropist Archer M. Huntington. Founded in 1904 by Huntington, The Hispanic Society of America was created to “serve as [an] instrument . . . through which Americans could gain a direct knowledge of their heritage from Spain. The Hispanic Society of America Complex, completed in 1908, was constructed as part of Audubon Terrace, a cultural center in the Washington Heights neighborhood established by Archer M. Huntington.”

From there, move over to the New York SP Casa Amadeo, antigua Casa Hernández (National Archives Identifier 75316455), “located in the Manhanset Building in the South Bronx, Bronx County, New York, [which] possesses local exceptional significance under Criterion A as a site that embodies the history of the development of Latin music in New York City and its role in the Puerto Rican migration experience.”

“The property continues to have an integral role in New York’s Latino community and Latin music scene. Casa Amadeo is also significant under Criterion B for association with Victoria Hernández, the store’s founder, one of the earliest female Puerto Rican entrepreneurs in New York, and the sister of one of Latin America’s greatest composers, Rafael Hernández. Victoria Hernández sold the store in 1969 to its current owner, musician and composer Mike Amadeo, the son of popular Puerto Rican composer Titi Amadeo. The store is recognized by musicians and music historians as a site significant in the history of Latin music in the City; and as the oldest Latin music store in New York City, Casa Amadeo’s story is a microcosm of the Puerto Rican experience in New York. It is also one of the few remaining intact sites connected to the Latin music scene, which developed in New York City.”

Historic Route 66 – San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town, Albuquerque, NM (National Archives Identifier 7719418)

The American Southwest has many properties that are greatly influenced by Hispanic culture. Many of the properties in the NRHP records are churches (and in some cases, cemeteries adjacent to churches). In Albuquerque, New Mexico, one can visit the San Felipe de Neri Church (National Archives Identifier 77847170), of which “the original appearance of the church is described, at least in terms of measurements, by Dominguez in his 1776 report on the New Mexico Missions. From this we learn that ‘The church is adobe with very thick wails, with the outlook and main door to the east. . . .’ Further, ‘It has a choir loft like those described where there are such. . . .’ And again, ‘The roof of the nave consists of thirty nine beams… There are ten more in the sanctuary. . . .’ San Felipe was built, as well as can be determined, in 1706 (first baptism recorded June 21, 1706). Allowed to fall into disrepair, it was rebuilt in 1793. The orientation, if not the exact location, was altered in the rebuilding. The present orientation is north-south. In both instances the principal building material was adobe.”

You can also travel to La Veta, Colorado to see Francisco Plaza (National Archives Identifier 84130758). The plaza “built in 1862, is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Main Street and Francisco Street in La Veta, in south central Colorado. The plaza consists of two historic adobe structures forming a U-shape around an open courtyard. The lot on which the plaza sits composes the Fort Francisco Museum Complex . . . The plaza was evidently originally a large D-shaped adobe structure, 100 feet to a side and enclosed on the fourth side by a fence. In the center was an open courtyard where the well, dug in 1862, was located. A small opening between two buildings on the north side served as an entrance into the courtyard. Characteristic of early Hispanic architecture, the structure was constructed of adobe bricks 18 to 24 inches thick and had a flat, dirt roof supported by vigas.”

Colorado (National Archives Identifier 23635494)

In Antonito, Colorado, you can see the S.P.M.D.T.U Concilio Superior (National Archives Identifier 84128757), which is the “headquarters for La Sociedad Proteccion Mutua De Trabajadores Unidos (the Society for the Mutual Protection of United Workers), the Concilio Superior . . . building represents an important aspect of Colorado’s social history, while also reflecting Hispano heritage in the state.” The organization was created to “address the needs of Hispano workers in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The S.P.M.D.T.U. illustrates how Hispanos organized regionally to combat racial hate, economic exploitation, and lack of social services through communal acts of charity among its members . . . Eventually, the Concilio Superior conducted business, served as the convention center, and was the organizing body for the sixty-four lodges located throughout Colorado, and in parts of New Mexico and Utah.”

Close Up of Bronze Tablet on Zero Milestone of the Old Spanish Trail at St. Augustine (National Archives Identifier 135820533).

There is also the “Old Spanish Trail,” which runs from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California. A portion of the Trail located in Utah is listed on the National Register, which “was opened during the late 18th century as a way from the nearby Colorado River crossing to the Green River desert and a crossing of the Green River. At this point, the trail climbed out from a wash off the river to the valley parallel to Arches NP that leads to the Green River desert. The trail was used intermittently until the 1840s & and by pioneers in the 1850s.”

Cesar Chavez, Migrant Workers Union Leader (National Archives Identifier 544069)

When you get off the Old Spanish Trail, you can travel north to the town of Keene, California to visit California SP Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz (National Archives Identifier 123858865), commonly known as La Paz, a property that was developed first “during the 1910s with the construction of four buildings associated with a nearby rock quarry. The second phase, associated with the property’s development as a tuberculosis sanatorium, extended from the 1920s to the 1960s. The third phase began in the 1970s, when the property became the headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and the year-round residence of Cesar Chavez and other union personnel . . . The significance of Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz lies in its association with the productive life of Cesar Chavez and its association with the activities and achievements of the United Farm Workers union (and other affiliated organizations) between 1970 and 1984.”

There are also a number of properties included on the National Register as part of the New Mexico MPS Las Vegas New Mexico MRA (National Archives Identifier 77876726), including the Trujillo-Gonzales House (National Archives Identifier 77846644), which is built with a “Stuccoed foundation; stuccoed adobe walls; corrugated metal roof; small eave overhang; small door in gable; 2/2 double-hung windows, wood casement windows (rear); boxed porch posts, railing, half-timbering.” The home is located “one block southwest of the Old Town Residential Historic District, on a hill which rises from the Arroyo Gabonito.” It is “another notable example of the incorporation of Anglo materials and plans into the local Hispanic building tradition.”

Throughout the American Southwest you can see properties influenced by Hispanic culture. You can tour the Jemez Mountain Trail and the Jemez State Monument (National Archives Identifier 77847493) in New Mexico, which includes “one of the important outposts on the Spanish Religious frontiers of New Mexico [the] San Jose de Guisewa Mission” in Sandoval County.  “This Franciscan mission was founded around 1620 at the Pueblo of Giusewa, probably by Fray Geronimo Zarate Sameron and ministered actively to the Jemez Indians for at least 10 years. The pueblo sheltered some 800 inhabitants . . . The ruins of the mission church, now part of Jemez State Monuments, are unusually impressive. Walls of stone 4 to 8 feet thick, rise as high as 30 feet in places, and the ruins of an octagonal tower stand 50 feet high. Extensive remains of the convento, especially the monastery, adjoin the church. A small private chapel in the monastery is the best preserved room. West of the church are the ruins of the pueblo, including swelling rooms and kivas.”

Langley Park Shopping Center (National Archives Identifier 169136476)

Not far from the National Archives Building in College Park, Maryland, one can visit the historic community of Langley Park (National Archives Identifier 106777982) and the Langley Park Mansion, also known as the McCormick-Goodhart Mansion. The house is “a Georgian Revival estate mansion, built in 1924 of brick, clay tile, and concrete, circa 180 by 40 feet; the exterior is of brick with cast-stone trim.” As the community of Langley Park grew, “the immigrant population, particularly Hispanic, of the area surrounding the Langley Park mansion increased. In 1985, CASA de Maryland, a small social service organization, was founded, with the goal of providing assistance, training, job placement, and access to resources to low-wage Latinos and other immigrant families. In recent years, CASA, in collaboration with the owners of Parcel L, began to plan the restoration of the mansion to serve as CASA’s regional headquarters, and multicultural center for the assistance of community residents. In 2005, the owners of Parcel L, Willowbrook Limited Partnership, signed a lease with CASA to proceed with this work.”

Further south, you can also visit La Tropicana Café in the Ybor City Historic District (National Archives Identifier 77841886) in Florida, as President George W. Bush did in 2004. “Situated a short distance northeast of Tampa’s main business district, the Ybor City Historic District includes more than 1,300 buildings, nearly a thousand of which are historic, in three major enclaves. Constituting the most outstanding collection of such structures associated with late 19th- and early 20th-century Cuban and Spanish settlement in the United States—and with strong Italian and other ethnic associations—it contains buildings that illustrate the key aspects of those immigrant groups’ experience.”

President George W. Bush Visits with Patrons of La Tropicana Café in Ybor City, Florida (National Archives Identifier 172544284)

The increase of Hispanic involvement in American politics has also led American presidents to court Hispanic voters, as their influence has significantly altered the political map. Below, you can see President Barack Obama at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala in 2014.

President Barack Obama Speaks at the 2014 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala (National Archives Identifier 176551862)

Click on any of the hyperlinked National Archives ID numbers above to open the fully digitized records in the National Archives Catalog. The NRHP files include additional documents, photographs, drawings, and maps.

For more articles and resources visit the National Hispanic Heritage Month website.

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