In the late 1920s, Clarence Mott Woolley merged his company with Standard Sanitation to become American Standard – still America’s largest producer of faucets and fixtures. The Woolleys bought La Mesita Ranch and in the 1930s hired John Gaw Meem to design three main homes. Meem is considered to be the most important architect in New Mexico’s history.
John Gaw Meem
Visitors to New Mexico are overcome with inspiration due not only to the unique landscape, but also due to the proliferation of architecture unlike anything else in the United States. In Santa Fe, local ordinances prevent new buildings from being fashioned in anything other than Pueblo revival style, in order to retain the city’s unique cultural heritage and flavor, but what visitors (and even residents!) might not know is that the style isn’t as ancient as it looks.
La Mesita Ranch Estate is a breathtaking example of the style, built by Pueblo Revival’s key architect and located on a hidden, tucked-away mesa on sovereign Native land.
Pueblo Revival architecture is the brainchild of John Gaw Meem, the Brazilian-born son of missionaries. After being diagnosed with tuberculosis in the early 1920s, he relocated to Santa Fe, where the dry air was said to help those suffering from the lung ailment. While in Santa Fe he became inspired by the classic Spanish Mission churches, many of which can still be seen today, including on Pojoaque Pueblo.
His vision was to take inspiration from these designs and combine it with modern building planning and materials. Exposed beams, also known as vigas, and steeped parapets are key elements of this style, as are stucco exteriors meant to evoke the traditional adobe (mud and straw) buildings of the Pueblos and missions. Meem said that his goal was to "evoke a mood without attempting to produce an archaeological imitation."
His legacy and influence on the area’s aesthetic cannot be overstated, and many of his creations are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.