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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service

[graphic text] Edificios En San Juan

[photo] Lujan Family in the San Elizario H.D.
Photo by David Kramer, courtesy of University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Historical Commission

Located on just over 27 acres on the flood plain of the Rio Grande approximately 17 miles southeast of El Paso, Texas, the San Elizario Historic District comprises the core of the community of San Elizario that evolved from the presidio and chapel of San Elceario established in 1790 along a spur of the Camino Real. The district encompasses primarily adobe and wood buildings dating from c. 1830 through the World War II era, when local builders began to rely on prefabricated building materials. Although periodic flooding destroyed most, if not all, of the original presidio complex, the community that grew on the presidio site during the 19th century derived its spatial organization, irrigation system and building practices from the precedents of the presidio and Spanish colonial settlement customs. In the 1880s, the coming of the railroad and the bypassing of San Elizario diminished the town’s importance in the region yet contributed to the preservation of its physical fabric and historic sense of place. Although all of the district’s extant architecture post dates the 1829 flood, archeological investigations suggest the presence of pre-flood presidio attributes beneath the more recent buildings. The district is locally important for its strong historic associations with the early agricultural and commercial settlement of the Lower Valley, with Spanish and Mexican town planning practices and with Hispanic ethnic heritage. It is also significant for its concentration of Spanish Colonial Revival influenced residences, businesses and institutional buildings as well as for the archeological data several sites have yielded or may yield, providing illuminating evidence about the area’s early history.

[graphic] photo Stagecoach Station and the Gregory Nacenseno Garcia House in the San Elizario H.D.
Photo by David Kramer, courtesy of University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Historical Commission

Over the last 20 years or so, the isolation and absence of substantial economic development in San Elizario prompted residents and preservationists to re-examine the unique qualities of the village. Successful locally initiated preservation efforts have resulted including the purchase of several properties within the district by the non-profit El Paso Landmarks, the acquisition of the jail by El Paso County, the preservation of churches such as the San Elizario Mission Chapel by the Mission Trail Association, oral history accounts and a host of archeological digs throughout the area. Many residents have contributed to these efforts in a variety of ways hoping that the community will be recognized and celebrated for its important place in Texas borderland history. The district’s listing the National Register is viewed as a major step toward its documentation, recognition and preservation.


San Elizario Historic District | Supreme Court Building | Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
Hispanic Heritage Home | NR Home


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