La Plazuela restaurant at La Fonda on the Plaza has been named a winner of the 40th annual Heritage Preservation Awards by the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division.
The award honors the 2009 renovation that restored La Plazuela to the original design conceived by Harvey House architect Mary Jane Colter and John Gaw Meem, father of “Santa Fe style,” in the 1920s.
The renovation was overseen by Santa Fe architect Barbara Felix, who researched original specifications for the interior courtyard that had been turned into an enclosed restaurant in the 1970s. A Spanish-style fountain designed by Colter was replicated, along with a new flagstone floor that matches the original stones quarried in Lamy. Woodwork was lightened to match the original design, and the restaurant’s signature hand-painted windows were retained in French doors that open as intended.
Architect Peter Wurzburger nominated La Plazuela for its six-month, multimillion-dollar renovation. The hotel worked with the state’s Historic Preservation Division and its tax credit program on parts of the project.
La Fonda on the Plaza, built in 1922, was expanded and redesigned by Meem and Colter in 1926-29. Colter oversaw the interior design, including unique artisan details throughout the hotel, as for many Harvey House properties. The 2009 renovation of La Plazuela mimicked Colter’s practice of commissioning local craftsmen, who created a hand-forged iron railing overlooking the restaurant, a wrought-iron chandelier, and wall sconces using glass hand-blown in Guadalajara, Mexico. Many of the dining tables and chairs were likewise hand-carved and covered in fabrics that replicate historic textiles.
The renovation also replaced the atrium ceiling with a more energy-efficient design that bathes the restaurant in natural light, one of the most widely praised improvements.
Felix spent months researching drawings and correspondence by Meem and Colter to weave La Fonda’s storied past into a tapestry of materials used in the renovation, most of them hand-crafted in traditional style. The tiles used for the fountain, for example, were hand-painted from originals unearthed beneath the floor.
Other winners of Heritage Preservation Awards in 2012 include the restoration of the Oscar Huber Memorial Ballfield in Madrid, and the 1883 Lobato Trestle Bridge for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.