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The House on Acequia Madre


The Acequia Madre House was built by three remarkable women—mother, daughter, and granddaughter—who made significant contributions intellectually, culturally, and financially to Santa Fe and beyond.

The matriarch, Eva Scott Fényes, first came to Santa Fe in the late 1880s. Eva was an astute businesswoman who built upon her inheritance, as her daughter and granddaughter would. Eva was an accomplished artist working primarily in watercolors. She introduced her daughter Leonora to Santa Fe where she met and married Thomas E. Curtin.

Leonora Curtin became a recognized ethnobotanist who extensively researched the herbs and plants in the Santa Fe area and whose seminal books on this topic remain in print. Her daughter, also named Leonora, developed into a linguistic scholar assisting The Smithsonian’s John P. Harrington in the documentation of Native American languages.

The younger Leonora also founded and subsidized the Native Market in Santa Fe during the Depression to preserve Spanish Colonial crafts and to provide a venue through which the artisans could market their creations. After owning and renting other homes in Santa Fe, in the 1920s the three women decided to build a permanent Santa Fe residence: the Acequia Madre House.

Completed in 1926, the Territorial Revival style house was furnished with antiques and significant European, American, Spanish Colonial, and Native American art and artifacts. Over the years, several small additions were made to the house and the women—all of whom were preservationists—acquired a historic property in nearby La Cienega as a retreat. This land would evolve into the living history museum El Rancho de Las Golondrinas through the efforts of the younger Leonora and her husband Y. E. Paloheimo. Both of these properties continue to honor these women of purpose and vision.

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