Project name: Executive Office Building
Type of site: Historic residential
Period of use: American Territorial through New Mexico Statehood
Dates: ca. 1880–1960
Project director: Matthew J. Barbour
Executive Office Building Excavation
In 2011 the OAS conducted archaeological excavations on state land just south of the Bataan Memorial Building in preparation for construction of the governor’s new Executive Office Building. The structure will be within the boundaries of LA 158037, an archaeological site with deposits dating primarily to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the late Territorial and New Mexico Statehood periods, this site was part of a multiethnic residential area in the Capitol Complex Historic Neighborhood of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Previous archaeological studies of the site for the Capitol Complex Parking Facility resulted in the documentation of 11 structures, 219 features, and 23,188 artifacts. Investigations associated with the Executive Office Building added an additional 3 structures, 157 features, and 2,278 artifacts.
Work in the area of the Executive Office Building focused primarily on two historic properties: 116 and 120 South Capitol Street. Constructed sometime between 1908 and 1912, the structures had identical floor plans that were oppositely arranged. They were initially developed as rental properties on land owned by Frederick “Fritz” Muller, former Rough Rider and Republican rival of Governor Miguel Otero.
During much of the early twentieth century, the Beacham (116 South Capitol) and Butler (120 South Capitol) families lived at the two residences—both middle-class families. The Beacham family owned a hardware store, and the Butler family ran a plumbing business. Both heads of household were avid outdoorsmen. Roy Butler enjoying hunting, and William Beacham was among New Mexico’s earliest advocates of fly fishing. Unlike many of the other residents in the neighborhood, these families do not appear to have had strong ties with the Republican Party or the Baptist Church.
Some of the more interesting finds associated with these residences included a large chrysanthemum garden, a cesspit, and an underground metal storage tank. The cesspit appears to have serviced both residences. It was constructed of bricks from the Standard Firebrick Company of Pueblo, Colorado, using a header bond. Roy Butler, a plumber living at 120 South Capitol, was awarded the American Institute of Architects Craftsmanship Award in 1954. He probably constructed the cesspit in the 1930s. A full array of macrofloral, pollen, and human waste samples collected from the cesspit should provide information on the diet and diseases of the Beacham and Butler families.
Analysis of all cultural materials collected in association with the project is currently underway. The goal of these studies is to compare consumption and discard patterns of the Beacham and Butler families with others in the neighborhood, such as the Alarid, Parker, and Muller households, which have already been studied as part of the Capitol Parking Facility research. While this research does not have the glitz and glamour of Chaco, understanding local trends in the consumption and discard of cultural materials helps archaeologists study the effects of radio, television, and other advertising media on consumer behaviors, as well as the impact of Prohibition and economic depression on the New Mexico populace. Ultimately, these studies of consumer behavior in the twentieth century document the transformation of local and regional economies into the greater national market we have today.