A Gift to Future Scholars: Bequest Ensures Schwartz Seminar House Improvements
Entrance to the Schwartz Seminar House after a winter storm.
Guest post by Rachel Preston Prinz, Architectural Historian, Santa Fe
Pat Kuhlhoff was one of those people who was into everything Santa Fe.
She and I met while working on a multi-year project to put segments of the Old Spanish Trail on the National Register of Historic Places. The project—which documented a trade route between blanket makers in New Mexico and horse and mule provisioners in San Gabriel, California—was epic in scope and complexity, covering a system of trails that wound through six states and was built on ancient indigenous pathways. We were managing a large team that included experts, consultants, history buffs, volunteers, community organizations, and park officials from various units of national, state, and tribal governments. After months of fieldwork to find the most intact segments, we produced leading-edge cultural landscape nominations in each of the six states. Pat, our archaeologist Mark Henderson, and I shared our process and outcomes together in conferences, tours, and talks for the decade since, in hopes that our methodology would inspire a new model for the way that trails and indigenous lifeways might be treated.
Pat spent more than 25 years in Santa Fe, sharing her passion of this place as a docent for the Santa Fe Opera, Rancho de Los Golondrinas, the Palace of the Governors, the Plaza information booth, and LaFonda on the Plaza. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Bienvenidos, the Old Spanish Trail and Santa Fe Trail Associations, the Mule & Donkey Association, and Los Compadres. For her herculean efforts, Pat was recognized in fall 2018 by the New Mexican in an article named “Legacy of City’s “Perfect Ambassador””.
In addition to welcoming guests to town, Pat worked tirelessly on the documentation and recognition of the Old Spanish National Historical Trail, and it’s because of her diligence that we have trail markers in town and on Bishop’s Lodge, and along the trail to California.
Pat became not only a peer and professional ally, but I also adopted her as something of a surrogate grandma. Especially once she got sick, when our friendship bloomed into spending more time together and having really important conversations, because my dad had also been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer the year before, and she had helped me through that before she received her own diagnosis. Right after my dad died, even though she was quite sick herself, she comforted me by taking me on her famous tour of the city so she could pass on some of her encyclopedic knowledge to me.
During our regular visits while she was sick, I would tell Pat about my work. At the time, I was consulting with architect Barbara Felix on the Masterplan for the School for Advanced Research, as well as the Historic Structures Report of the Acequia Madre House. Each time we would get together, I would prattle on about the two estates, how they had been built at the same time, how both were conceived and financed by women, and how they were supposed to be designed by the same architect. They would have ended up the same style, but something shifted, and that shift may have led to the redefinition of the styles of architecture in Santa Fe.
Elizabeth White with a prize-winning afghan hound at “El Delirio,” the 1920s historic estate on Garcia Street that is now the campus for Santa Fe’s School for Advanced Research, 660 Garcia Street. AC20_01j
I gushed about how much I love SAR, because I believe that the estate’s original owners, Elizabeth and Martha White, created the quintessential Spanish Pueblo Revival estate, and how that, combined with the incredible legacy of SAR, makes me believe that the campus deserves to be protected and honored. I would shower her with photos and stories of the estate’s historic background. Pat would bask in it all, the never-ending fan of history that she was. She loved the girl-powerness of it, and that it might just change our perception of our own history when the “secret,” lost to time, came out.
Then, she got really, really sick. Eventually, treatments were not working, and she decided it was time to move on to her next docent position with the ancestors. She stopped treatment, but she didn’t stop working to preserve our history. We were working on an Old Spanish Trail game for young people at the Abiquiu Library up until a few weeks before she died.
I was astonished and thrilled at her funeral when SAR’s Director of Development Laura Sullivan told me that Pat had set aside part of her estate to fund some of SAR’s deferred maintenance and improvement campus projects. Her bequest will upgrade services in the Schwartz Seminar House so that this space will be better able to serve scholars who go through SAR’s seminar program.
Bottom: Schwartz Seminar House Interior.
The house, featured on an early map of the site by Gustave Baumann, is a one-story Spanish-Pueblo Revival style adobe, and the only building on the SAR campus visible from Garcia Street. The core building was built in 1926, designed by the estate’s architect, William Penhollow Henderson. It served as a garage and storage facility for the White sisters for several years before it was converted to a home for Estate Manager Jack Lambert, who lived there until the 1940s, when he married Marjorie (Marge) Ferguson and the couple moved a few doors down Garcia Street. The house was then turned into a guest cottage, and eventually renamed in 2001 for Douglas W. Schwartz, SAR’s president from 1967-2001, who is credited with transforming SAR into one of the nation’s most important research centers in anthropology, archaeology, and Native American arts and cultures.
Bottom: 1974 Advanced Seminar “The Origins of Civilization in the Maya Lowlands.”
SAR’s Seminar programs, which were started in 1968, have been meeting for decades in the Schwartz Seminar house. The space has a conference room, dining room, kitchen, private bedrooms for ten, and a courtyard where participants can meet without distractions for discussions and peer reviews. R. Brian Ferguson, 1989 advanced seminar co-chair and SAR Press author, once said about the Seminar program, “There isn’t any other force within anthropology today that has as much impact in moving the field forward and helping young scholars become established.” Because of this, SAR has always wanted to deliver a top-notch experience for the program’s guests. Pat’s bequest means the building will receive several updates and upgrades that will allow for better accessibility and comfort for guests.
And, because of the power of these programs, Pat’s gift represents an investment in the future of anthropology, as well as the campus. I know that Pat would love that her gift will not only improve the building, but support the work of scholars today and in the future!
I will never forget Pat’s last birthday, just a few days before her passing. She was so happy to have made it to 74 – another tick on her bucket list. More than a hundred people came to her party to celebrate her. She sat in a high-backed chair like a queen holding court, and I found myself sitting to the side, at her feet, and holding her hand while she hugged each person in the enormous line of guests, chatting away with them for what would end up being one last time. To many, as they were finishing up, so others could visit her, she would gently take their hand in her hands, look them square in the eye, and say “Thank you so much for being here. It really would not be the same without you here.”
At that moment, I didn’t really get how powerful her words were, outside of having burst into tears when she said them to me. But on reflection, if there is one thing I could say to my friend right now, it would be “Thank you so much for being here. It really would not be the same without you here.”
I have so much gratitude to Pat and her foresight in caring for this very special place with her estate gift. I hope that SAR and their fans and friends, and future program participants, will feel the same.
Consider leaving a lasting legacy with SAR.