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"Preserving Architectural Heritage and Community Traditions in New Mexico and the Southwest"


American Architectural Foundation Recognizes San Miguel Chapel Project

American Architectural Foundation uses Cornerstones' San Miguel Chapel project as a model to showcase Saving America's Treasure stories on their website. Click SAT to read it.

LANL Supports Cornerstones Community Partnerships in Community Connections

Community Connections is a "monthly news and opportunities for the Laboratory's [Los Alamos National Laboratory] neighbors and friends, with a primary focus on economic development, education and community giving." To see the post about Cornerstones Community Partnerships, go here.

Cornerstones Community Partnerships Released an Adobe Curriculum for Pre-kindergarten

Cornerstones Community Partnerships released a youth adobe curriculum on September 19. The curriculum is designed for youth ages 3-5. Its design follows the Reggio Emilia approach which allows the children to create their educational experience through experimentation. Each lesson meets indicators from New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines: Birth through Kindergarten.

The curriculum is a series of five lessons with each lesson building on the previous one. Youth begin with the first lesson by exploring the four elements of adobe: clay dirt, sand, straw and water. The youth experience building with miniature bricks, finding adobe in their lives through a field trip or an adobero visit, and making their own bricks. The curriculum is flexible so educators can stretch the materials during a long period of time or can condense it into a 1 day experience.

Some of the educator feedback during the development phases are

"Sand, water, straw, `dirt' - all perfect for preschoolers."
"We stretched the lesson over 3 weeks and found it to be perfect for preschoolers."
"Kids love mud! They loved mixing the materials and experimenting with them."
"It was nice to have a prepared curriculum delivered to us. The provocation printouts were very clear, simple and to the point."

The curriculum was developed with the educator in mind. The curriculum can be downloaded from the web and all supplies can be picked up from one location in Santa Fe for a nominal fee. More information on the curriculum can be found at

This project was partially funded by the Historic Preservation Division, State of New Mexico, 407 Galisteo Street, Suite 236, Santa Fe, NM 87501 and by the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

The activity that is the subject of this project has been financed in part with federal funds from the national Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, [nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior].

Cornerstones Community Partnerships works in partnership with communities to restore historic structures, encourage traditional building practices, and affirm cultural values.

Download Pre-K Adobe Curriculum here.

Cornerstones Community Partnerships new Executive Director, Niña Johnson, brings wealth of experience

Niña Johnson has been named the new Executive Director of Cornerstones Community Partnerships in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Johnson began historic preservation programs for two cities in Colorado and is a former director of the Colorado Historical Society. She is the Founding Director of the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, a National Geographic Partnership in Golden, Colorado.

"I am thrilled to work with Cornerstones' excellent Board of Directors, Advisory Board and staff to continue and build the legacy of the organization," said Johnson. "As someone who has spent most their life in New Mexico, I love our adobe heritage. It is the most iconic element of our state's beautiful landscape." "Johnson is the right choice for us", said Dale Zinn, Board President. "We had excellent candidates for the position, but Nina rose to the top, due to her extensive leadership and cultural resource experience."

Cornerstones Community Partnerships, founded in 1986, is a nationally recognized authority in historic preservation. Working directly with a community and its youth Cornerstones teaches adobe brick making and the associated skills necessary to restore, build and maintain historic buildings. Leadership training and education are important elements of the work. The current major project is San Miguel Church built in 1601 in Santa Fe.

Fall Coursework as follows:

"Adobe Conservation and Preservation" is a special supplementary training class we are offering together with Pat Taylor. This class is geared towards students of historic preservation, professional builders, engineers and architects wanting to add adobe preservation to their services as well as non-professional owner/builders wishing to learn more about restoring an existing adobe structure. This is a blended format class which means that it is a mix of live and online instruction. The 5-day live instruction portion of the class will be held in La Mesa and Las Cruces, New Mexico at two ongoing adobe preservation projects. Pat will be covering a wide variety of adobe preservation topics via hands-on work and demos. The 4-week online component takes place directly before the 5-day live class and provides you with a thorough introduction to the most important theoretical topics of adobe conservation and preservation.

Weeks Online + 5 Days Live Instruction)
Dates: Online Instruction October 6 to November 2, 2014, Live Instruction from November 3 to November 7 (M - F, 8am to 4pm)
Credits: 4
Format: Live Instruction in La Mesa/Las Cruces, New Mexico, Online Instruction via Minigroup
Instructors: Pat Taylor (Live), Kurt Gardella (Online)
Fee: $500

For questions please email or go to

Jake's Travels

NCPTT logo
On August 23-24, Program Director Jake Barrow attended a Washington D.C. NCPTT convened group of trades practitioners, educators, nonprofit and federal agency staff to discuss how we could work together to improve preservation trades training opportunities in the NPS and beyond. The inspiration for the meeting was a proposed action item in the draft NPS Cultural Resource Challenge: Develop a "traditional skills" program within the NPS to produce training and technical briefs to support the efforts of the public and private sector. Discussion focused on how to facilitate student awareness of and connections among existing programs, how to improve preservation trades training for the NPS, and what technical information is needed to support preservation trades work.

Program Director Jake Barrow travelled to Lima, Peru to present information about Cornerstones at the XIth International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architecture Heritage. Following the conference, he headed to Chile to visit our good friends at Fundación Altiplano. Stay tuned for a slide presentation of Jake's travels.


Preserving the San Miguel Chapel Bell Tower

Hotel St. Francis Partners with Cornerstones Community Parnerships in preserving the San Miguel Chapel Bell Tower
Download Press Release
Cstones St Francis Hotel

Stories for Change

Cornerstones is one of the Leadership Examples in the MetLife Foundation's journal "Partners for Livable Communities"

Wesleyan Youth Make Adobe At Santo Domingo Trading Post

We were fortunate enough to have members of a church group from Wesleyan, Massachusetts come for the 2nd year to work at Santo Domingo Pueblo's Old Trading Post.

Wesleyan Students

Here's some of their comments:

What I really like about this project is connecting these youth from back east with the southwest traditions of earthen architecture which is so different from what they are accustomed to. Aaron Kauffman - organizer

This is my second time back here and I really enjoy the assembly line process Jake and Antonio set up getting these adobes made. Its a good feeling being a part of the group and helping the Pueblo out getting the Trading post fixed. Peter Dixon

I was here last year and really liked it. For me its great to see this earth being used to make adobe. Its not like this soil is good for agriculture and so using the resource to build the building is great. I enjoy the hard work and us competing against the others to make more adobe than they did. Alexandra Keiser

We've been talking with Ricardo Cate from the community a lot and that has been interesting to learn about the Pueblo and how this Trading Post can be some kind of economic engine to help. I really think this is going to work out and eventually be a successful project. Its great to see a practical use for the local dirt and obviously its good stuff because the old adobe on the building has held up so well. Andrew Ridlaup

San Miguel is "Angels Project"

San Miguel Chapel was chosen as the "Angels Project" for the Architectural Specialty Group (ASG) attending the National Conference of The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) held in Albuquerque. The group came down for a fulfilling, educational and fun day of work on Tuesday May 8.


ASG comments:

Great hands on training! Everybody was able to take turns at every workstation and the process was all very well explained. Excellent session!

Great way to learn something new about a material I don't have a background in.

Learning from the experts and knowing the work is used for a real project. Thanks for sharing you knowledge, skills, and tradition! Also learning about the local culture and people.

I really enjoyed making bricks and plastering. The best thing is participating in all the steps of making and using plaster and mud brick so that we have a comprehensive understanding of the process.

San Miguel Mission preservation - Santa Fe New Mexican editorial

Cowboys and Indians On-line magazine

San Miguel Chapel and Cornerstones were featured in an article on Cowboys and Indians on-line magazine. The article was written by Wolf Schneider and includes beautiful photographs of the Chapel in its early days. Keep checking the Cornerstones' webpage for more news about San Miguel. Visit Cowboys and Indians to read the article

Cornerstones Named a Preserve America Steward

Download our pdf of a press release announcing Cornerstones' designation as a Preserve America Steward.

Adobe Flood Manual

Download our pdf of Cornerstones' Emergency Flood Mitigation Manual for Earthen Architecture.