The Mesquite Historical District
By Sara G. Holguin for TU Magazine
It has been 162 years since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed and this land converted from Mexican to United States territory. It must have been an overwhelming time for Don Pablo Melendres, who was mayor of Doña Ana, due to all the migration and newcomers who were searching to claim undeeded land rights. Don Pablo sought help from the U.S. Army in an attempt to maintain order, help survey the land and plan out the new town site that we know today as Las Cruces.
The story goes that, after Lt. Delos Bennett Sackett used rawhide ropes and stakes to lay out a total of eighty four blocks, each containing four lots, distribution of property took place. Simplicity was at its best when it was decided that there was only one sensible and practical way of settling this type of property distribution dispute–pick a number out of the hat! Those one hundred and twenty families, who picked their lucky number, are the original founders of the present day, Mesquite Historical District. Many of those families still own the same property lot and home today.
The Mesquite district is recognized as part of the established landmark in New Mexico of the historic trading route, Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, one of the nineteen national historic trails (BLM-Santa Fe). In the past few years, the Mesquite district site has undergone a thorough restoration. Projects have been accomplished thanks to the monumental efforts of community residents, university and college staff, city leaders and law makers, as well as various organizations who have worked in collaboration to create a safer and thriving neighborhood with a sense of identity.
It is very important to highlight that the vision of restoring the original town site began about 11 years ago when community members started the neighborhood association, Las Esperanzas, Inc. “The mission is to facilitate the restoration, preservation, protection and revitalization of the Mesquite district,” said, David Chavez, Director of the non-profit Las Esperanzas.
The community garden project, Jardin de Esperanzas, situated on the corner of Spruce Avenue and San Pedro Street was possible because of the combined efforts of many. Then, on the corner of Spruce Avenue and Tornillo Street rests Jardin de Mesquite, a tile art mural that depicts the history of the community. Photos and texts coming from historic archives and Mesquite residents were all used as sources to tell the story. Jardin de Mesquite, a symbol of a “gateway” to the historic Mesquite district, was a collaborative adventure which began with Las Esperanzas commitment to revive the community with the dedication ceremony on January 7, 2006. It became the first of several projects completed . . .