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El Zaguán & Historic Santa Fe Foundation

Walking on Canyon Road you can't help but stop and take a moment to look more closely at the gardens of El Zaguán when they are in bloom. El Zaguán, once a private residence with a long history is now the home of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation. The foundation has its offices in a portion of the building and rents the rest out to artists as studio and living spaces.

According to the foundation's website, James L. Johnson defied the standard practice among Santa Fe merchants of being by the plaza by buying the parcel of land along Canyon Road in 1854. The area then was made up of farmland. Johnson and his wife Maria raised a family of seven children and ran their farm. Over the decades they added to the building until the arrival in 1880 of the railroad impacted his business and he lost his fortune. In 1918, Johnson's

I It was not until 1918 that James Baca, a grandson of James L. Johnson, was able to re-purchase the family home. Unfortunately, by 1928, the property was in foreclosure. Margretta Dietrich, the wealthy widow who lived next door, purchased the property.

After different plans for using the property failed, Dietrich turned the property into a series of apartments, which it remains. She named the property name El Zaguán, Spanish for a passage or hallway, in reference to the covered semi-enclosed walkway that runs through the building.

In 1979, after years under the care of the El Zaguán Corporation, the property was transferred to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.

In this video, Nancy Owens Lewis, presents the history of El Zaguán and its many inhabitants.

What stories can you tell about historic Santa Fe homes or buildings? What stories can you tell of their inhabitants over the years and even centuries? Is this your family story?

The Historic Santa Fe Foundation's website is rich in resources and information. Visit it at

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