History of the Pelham House
Pelham House is a historic territorial style home located about a mile from the settlement of Rodey. The original name of Rodey was Colorado but it was renamed for Bernard S. Rodey. The Apache Chief Victorio stole horses from Rodey and John Kinney's gang stole thousands of head of cattle driving them across the Rio Grande to a slaughterhouse in Rincon, a settlement several miles east of Hatch. The militia broke up the gang. The first settlers were attracted to the area because of the fertile lands around the Rio Grande River but they didn't have an easy time because of the floods.
Pelham house is only two miles from Hatch. Hatch was originally called Santa Barbara and was established in 1851 when nearby Fort Thorn was established. The settlement was abandoned in 1860 after the fort closed but was resettled in 1875 and renamed for General Edward Hatch, commander of the New Mexico Military District.
In 1889 Juan Bautista Armijo and his wife Tomasa Cerna de Armijo homesteaded the N. W. Quarter of Section 14 in New Mexico Territory, which is the site where Pelham House now stands. It isn't known if Armijo built the original structure that is now the Pelham House. The first account of the structure centers on Pablo Samaniego in 1904, however he may have lived in and improved upon a structure that Armijo built.
Armigo sold to Gregorio Miranda in 1892. Gregorio sold to Cornelio Miranda in 1901. Cornelio and Julianita Mirands sold to Pablo Samaniego January 2, 1904. Samaiego acquired additional land by 1905 so that he then owned all the land around the house and barn.
The structure that Pablo and Dolores Samaniego lived in is known to be part of the present house. It was remembered by their sons Paul and Martin that Pablo worked on the house but they did not know if he built it from the ground up or if there was an existing structure. Martin was born in the house. The house then was about 1800 square feet. Pablo farmed the land around the house. It was a functional rural farmhouse, constructed out of adobe, with mud serving as mortar and large rocks used for the foundation. Pablo and Dolores had seven children. They were Paul, Martin, Fabian, Saniel, Isabel, Rosa, and Rumalso. Pablo sold the house and farm in 1924 and moved his family to a home near Rincon.
The house was in the shape of a U when Samaniego owned it. There were about four or five rooms, which included the present day kitchen, dining room, living room, library, dressing room and bath. It amounted to about eighteen hundred square feet. It was a simple rural home but probably bigger than most in the area. The kitchen was the main living area while other sections were bedrooms. A large warehouse enclosed the courtyard on the south side of the d=welling. The warehouse is no longer in existence. The house was constructed of adobe with eighteen-inch thick walls. The foundation was made of huge rocks. The ceilings were lower than they are today. There were large trees at the north entrance which have since been taken out. This entrance was the original front door since at that time Highway 185 did not exist.
On February 28, 1924 Pablo and Dolores sold the house and farm to W. H. Harrison. Harrison and his wife, Lucy, kept the property only a few years. They sold to Ethel and J. H. Kelly on March 19, 1929. The Kelleys only kept the property until September of 1929 when they sold to Edward C. T. Pelham. Pelham was the one who reshaped the house and gave it its territorial style. He was a wealthy businessman with mining interests in Colorado and other investments as well. He was English and spoke with an English accent. He and his wife, Ann, had traveled abroad and they desired a large home to house the many fine things they had acquired. When they finished remodeling the house they furnished it with antiques, a bear rug, a statue of a Buddha, and many other items they had purchased in their travels. It was also said they came to the Hatch area because his wife had relatives here at the time.
The Pelham's were in contrast to the local, mostly Spanish community, and the house they built was the biggest and finest in the area. There was not another home as large, nor did the others have the architectural features that the Pelham House did.
Annie Morris, a Hatch resident, said that she used to play bridge with the Pelham's The house, she said, was the only one of its kind in the area. It was the biggest and contained features such as vigas, latillas, and exposed beams that are recognized as part of southwestern architecture. Even though Pelham probably used local labor for the remodeling and many of the materials such as adobe and vigas were used, the cost of the remodeling would still have been substantial.
The Pelham's did most of the remodeling and expansion. Adrian Ogaz, who lives near Hatch, said that his father worked on the house. The Pelham's added another two feet to the height of the walls to make 10-foot ceilings. It was clearly visible where the older sections had been when the outside stucco was replaced in 1979. Earlier construction used mud for mortar and large rocks for the foundation. Later construction used cement mortar and cement foundations.
Pelham brought the vigas and latillas from an old stage station in Rode. He also added the south wing to the house to completely enclose the courtyard and brought fine hardwood from England for the floors. He put in two fireplaces and installed the boiler and hot water radiators for the heating system. He also added a garage on the north and built a barn.
O. C. Browning of Hatch remembered doing some work for the Pelham's after they sold the home in October 1944 and moved into Hatch. His impression was that they lived quietly and he was surprised to find out that they were very well to do. Later Pelham helped Browning finance his first business venture on Browning's signature alone.
The house as it stands today is as Pelham designed it. Additions were made, but they did not change the basic structure. The changes he made during the depression years were significant in their own right. They reflect the southwestern style of architecture.
The Pelham lifestyle also appealed to D. F. Herndon and his wife who purchased the house and farm in 1944. Herndon was remembered by Browning and Mrs. Morris as a southern country gentleman. He was reported to be from the south and had been a cotton buyer. When they lived here, he was described as a gentleman farmer. He and Mrs. Herndon were particular about the house, and they employed a housekeeper who lived in the attached apartment. They were believed to be financially well-off. They were always immaculate in their dress. He was said to have inspected his fields wearing a white shirt, slacks, and polished boots. She often wore gloves and a hat with her attire.
The Hendons liked the leisurely country living and added their southern influence with the front porch addition. They also enclosed the courtyard porch, which made it possible to cross from one side of the house to the other without going outside or walking through a number of rooms. It also made one large room where a number of guests could be entertained. They liked to play bridge. They left the large pillars, which still stand, in the room. A fireplace is included in this addition. The Hendons also added onto the apartment.
Brady Porter of Hatch knew the Hendons. He said the home was furnished with antiques and that it was elaborate and very beautiful. After Mrs. Herndon died, Mr. Herndon remarried. His second wife lived in the house for a few years after he died, and, then, she moved to California.
Mr. Porter, Hatch businessman and farmer, bought the house and farm land around it from Agnes G. Herndon (Mr. Herndon's second wife) in May of 1974. He farmed the land, but no one lived in the house for five years until Vernon and Joanne Van Cleve purchased it in December of 1978.
The house was in need of repairs when the Van Cleves bought it. The old stucco was cracked, and there was water damage to the inside walls from a leaky roof. They replaced all the outside stucco and repaired and repainted all the inside walls. They added red mission tile to the top of the walls to protect them. The roof was repaired and foamed to prevent leaks. The roof was built in the native tradition. Ceilings were made of lumber placed on top of vigas. This was plastered underneath. Approximately six inches of dirt was placed on top, and this was covered with hot tar.
In the kitchen, metal cabinets were replaced with wood cabinets to match others that were built in. They replaced damaged metal canales with pipe the color of red clay tile. A small storeroom adjacent to the kitchen was made into a breakfast room. Some of the old fruit trees were replaced with new trees. When the old stucco was removed, it was discovered that the doors and windows had pole vigas that were originally exposed. These were left exposed when the house was plastered again in 1979.
There are seventeen rooms in the main house. These rooms are: kitchen, breakfast room, dining room, entry hall, living room, library, dressing room, three bedrooms, an office, utility room, family room, and boiler room. The boiler is part of the hot water heating system. Most of the rooms have the old fashioned radiators in them, and the system is still in use.
There is also a wing that is used as a garage and shop, and in this wing, a maid's quarters existed along with four rooms now used as storage. The Van Cleves also covered the courtyard with solar glass, so it is now an enclosed atrium. In addition, they installed twenty-two solar hot water collectors that provide hot water and augment the boiler system, which has been replaced w/ refrigerated air forced air for heat and a tankless water heater.
Much of the refinishing was done in the summer of 1979 in preparation for the wedding of Leslie Van Cleve and Deily Crumbley, a Ft. Bayard rancher. The wedding was held in the large living room on the north side. An altar of ferns was arranged in front of the fireplace land mirror, and chairs were set so that there was an aisle. A local minister performed the ceremony. The room was filled with guest, mostly relatives. Two of Leslie's friends played guitars and sang for the bride and groom. Afterward, food was served in the dining room, and they danced in the family room. The dining table was covered with platters of fresh vegetables, fruits, and melons. There were hot tamales, sopapillas, and chile con queso dip. There were bowls of fruit punch, and a keg of beer. A three-tiered wedding cake was on a table in the family room.
Vernon Van Cleve died July 28,1995. His widow, Joanne, maintained the property until it was sold in October of 1998. Joanne, then, moved to Arizona. The Van Cleves loved to water ski and snow ski. Joanne also became a certified scuba diver and ham radio operator. Vernon was a farmer and businessman in produce and insurance. Joanne was a teacher, a principal at Garfield, and director of curriculum for the Hatch Public Schools. Before transferring to the Hatch Public Schools, she taught in Arrey, a part of the Truth or Consequences District. They both traveled together to Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. Vernon was a veteran of WWII and the Korean War. The Van Cleves did the necessary paperwork to have the Pelham House listed on the New Mexico historical registry and named it Pelham House after the Pelham's who were responsible for the major construction.
The house is a mosaic of southwestern architecture. It evolved from a simple adobe structure starting, perhaps, in 1889 to a major reshaping done in 1929. Other minor changes were made to suit different owners. It contains materials obtained from even older structures such as the old stage station in Rodey. It was built with local laborers who often built without the use of a common carpenter's square. Consequently, there are places in the structure that are not square, but this gives the building its rustic, free form, look. Local residents say it was and still is recognized as a landmark in the Hatch area.
Pelham House 1999
Robert and Cecilia Gross purchased the Pelham House in October 1999. This was a wonderful dream of theirs come true! An old adobe with beautiful fireplaces, oak floors from England, four bedrooms, and a private attached casita for friends and family to visit.
A special wedding was held in 2001 for Cici's daughter. The wedding took place under a full moon in the old horse corral, which was adorned with special roses and twisted willow along with hundreds of votive candles. This was truly a scene from “Like Water for Chocolate”, followed by a procession of sixty guests and a ten piece Mariachi group around to the south entrance for music and tapas amongst the giant cottonwoods and hundred year old pecan trees.
A buffet was served in the dining room and in the atrium tables of sic with Moroccan lanterns and more roses for centerpieces along with dancing in the Sala Grande.
Renovation was begun on the attached casita (maid's quarters) which was totally gutted and remodeled from top to bottom for Sister Margarita, Cici's aunt and her companion, Sister Marilyn Rose, for eighteen years. Thus came the Handmaiden's of the Lord quarters.
Local artists were hired to recreate the old windows and a new front door with a carving of Santa Clara. Santa Clara was hand-painted by Sister Margarita who studied with Sister Corita Kent and received her masters in art/film at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles California. Sister Margarita's wish was to minister to the day she died. Sadly Sister Margarita, better known as “Aunt Sister”, died in August of 2003.
Major renovations on the main house began in 2004. Starting with the reconstruction of the south entrance and front porch. The rotted and water damaged white federal pillars were replaced with hand carved Spanish colonial columns and corbels. Latillas were added and three rod iron chandeliers. Also added to the front porch are six hand carved oversized Mexican rocking chairs for your comfort and reflection.
Robert has painted the entire outside of the hacienda with four different shades of warm sunset hues-gold's and mustards. He has also planted forty Italian cypress trees. This is Robert's expression of an old Hacienda.
Next came the new roof with air-conditioning/heat on the roof, which began in August 2004 when there is no rain. With twenty-three holes in a sod roof it rained through November. Sister Marilyn is truly a saint for three months she arranged and rearranged buckets, pots, and pans until the job was complete.
The original kitchen was gutted and made larger by removing one wall and replacing all the cabinets, a new stove, new ovens, sinks, tile on the floor and Spanish tile on the counter tops.
“Big Bertha”, the old boiler, was removed from the sub basement and a guest bathroom/laundry room was built.
The atrium was covered with solar panels to allow year round access. There are fruit bearing citrus trees with a three-tier fountain in the middle adding to a relaxing atmosphere day or night.
Guests, friends, and family all enjoy our home, which is in the middle of farming fields. Those who come to visit relish all seasons. This is a little bit of “heaven” to enjoy.
The renovation of the Pelham House has been a labor of love for Robert and Cici taking six years of traveling back and forth from California using every opportunity to work on the hacienda. These were our “working vacations”.
Recent renovations include a vineyard outside the breakfast room and an outside dining area with fountain and herb garden. There is a new sauna and future plans includes an outside soaking tub and shower. Aditionally, a 30ft Tepee for magical dinner parties up to 12. We will be doing cooking classes for your unique dinner party featuring our signature dish Paella.
Robert's grand vision is to add more casitas, out family and friends are growing and there seems to be a need for the beauty and peacefulness the Pelham House offers. Our gift to you is a living piece of history…a place to renew one's body, mind, and spirit.
May the sun rise and set in your heart at Pelham House.