Los Griegos was not part of Albuquerque until two successive annexations by that City in 1948 and 1951 and building permits were not usually obtained before that time. Often, the most accurate single record available for dating buildings in the area is 1927 Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Maps which show property lines and building locations relative to irrigation ditches and drains. Reference to these maps will detail building locations as pre – or post- 1927. Dating of the buildings in Los Griego’s has been conservatively accomplished through a cross-referencing of building permits, Bernalillo County granto-grantee records, oral testimony, styles, materials and the 1927 Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Map.
The village of Los Griego’s is an old Spanish agricultural community located a little over three miles north of downtown Albuquerque; it is clustered primarily around Griegos Road N.W. between Rio Grande Boulevard and Guadalupe Trail. The village is strung between and beyond two loci: the church at 1858 Griegos Road and the Griegos Ditch. The grant for Los Griegos was for lands immediately to the north of the Albuquerque Grant and roughly between the mountains to the east and the Rio Grande to the west. The Los Griegos Historic District stands on those grant lands closest to the river, where there is the greatest concentration of structures built before 1930.
The Los Griegos Historic District contains 121 inventoried buildings dating from the mid-19th century through the present time. The buildings are in various states of repair/disrepair and line the major streets of the district: Rio Grande Boulevard on the west, Guadalupe Trail on the east and Griegos Road which connects the two.
The Griegos Drain runs east of and parallel to Rio Grande Boulevard on the west end of the village dividing those houses along the Boulevard from those on the east side along Griegos Road and Guadalupe Trail. Arcing across the original northing boundary of the village is the old Griegos/Candelarias Ditch which curves to the southeast to cross Griegos Road at its intersection with Guadalupe Trail. The disused Barelas Ditch crosses the center of the district from northwest to southeast. Surrounding much of the district are open lands reflecting the original settlement pattern of residences set along the road with the farmlands to the back. The population is approximately 350 people. Primarily residential in nature, the district contained a society hall, a church, and several small stores all of which have been converted into residences.
The houses in Los Griegos are primarily owner/community built and are excellent examples of the basic form, growth and continuity of vernacular New Mexican architectural design. Most buildings in the district are single-story, stuccoed, and were built of terrones, sod blocks cut from marsh lands near the river. The vernacular style continues into the twentieth century in Los Griegos with the buildings maintaining a modest appearance with only a hint of give style. Most of the vernacular New Mexico architectural styles described in the resource area nomination are included within the district.
The Los Griegos Historic District is locally significant because it is the only 19th-century village in Albuquerque’s North Valley which has retained its architectural continuity and cultural traditions. The buildings in Los Griegos are the embodiment of a unique culture that has its base in 18th-century Spanish custom.
In 1708 a grant of lands was given to Juan Griego, a direct descendant of one of the soldiers who served under Onate in the original Spanish conquest of New Mexico. (Los Griegos, when translated from Spanish means “The Greeks” and refers to the nationality of the Griego who served as a mercenary in Onate’s army.) Juan Griego received a concession of lands just north of the Albuquerque grant. Since Los Griegos was a small Spanish subsistence farming community, it was not required to have a plaza. Rather, it took a linear form, stretching along the road between the river and the main irrigation ditch. Farmland stretched north and south from the houses to contra acequias (private ditches) which took irrigation water from the Griegos-Candelarias ditch. Even with recent infill and modern subdivision of property, this traditional settlement pattern is still evident in Los Griegos.
The census of 1790 listed 109 people in Los Griegos in 25 households. Six men were farmers, one was a day laborer and nine processed wool. The village had two tailors and one shoemaker. Only one family could afford a servant. By 1860 the population had grown considerably. Many were still farmers and day laborers (which may have included the wool workers) and Griegos had the distinction of having the only grocery storekeeper and schoolmaster in the North Valley. Most prominent among the residents were Juan Cristobal Armijo, listed as a merchant, and his son Nestor, also a merchant. Juan Cristobal was probably living near or in Los Poblanos, the old plaza just north of Los Griegos and subsequently absorbed into it. The Armijos were not typical of the population of Los Griegos, for the people of the village had a modest rural life until the coming of the railroad.
A building boom occurred in Los Griegos after the railroad arrived when rural Hispanic immigrants came to the city to work on the railroad or for the newly-opened Breece Lumber Company located just to the northeast of old Albuquerque; many settled in Los Griegos, building their own adobe homes. These buildings have remained fairly intact architecturally. This is the primary reason why Los Griegos contains excellent examples of vernacular architecture dating from the late 19th and 20th centuries.
After statehood in 1912 several large farms immediately to the north of the village were developed which enabled the people of Los Griegos to supplement their income as day laborers on the dairy farms of Congressman Albert Simms’ “Los Poblanos” and Robert Dietz’ “Dietz Farm”. Additionally, employment was found at the Rossiter Greenhouse on the outskirts of the village as well as at the sawmill and the railroad shops. With the growing number of jobs available outside the village, the traditional patters of community life which were based on subsistence farming began to break down.
While the patterns of modern life in Los Griegos are clearly different from those maintained during the village’s days as a farming community, many customs and traditions are continued by long-time village residents. Cooperation in clearing the local ditches of overgrowth is demonstrated each spring among those still having irrigation rights. Villagers clear the smaller ditches, while responsibility for the main acequias is held by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.
While the ditches assured the economic salvation for the subsistence farmers of the village, the Catholic Church guaranteed their spiritual salvation. Los Griegos probably had a small chapel since the early 1800’s to which a priest from San Felipe de Neri in Albuquerque would come to hear confessions and say mass. In 1876 construction began on a chapel dedicated to San Isidro – the patron saint of the fields. Later called Our Lady of Guadalupe, the chapel (now a private house at 1858 Griego’s Road) was the center of village religious life until a new church was built to the south in 1955.
The people of Los Griegos have continued seventeenth-century traditions that were centered on the Catholic faith. The morality play called Los Pastores dates from the seventeeth-century methods of the Franciscan friar missionaries who would use plays to demonstrate precepts of the Catholic faith to the Indian population. Each village that performed Los Pastores developed a different version of the story of the Sheppard’s’ quest for the Christ Child on Christmas Eve. Archaic Spanish is evident in the Los Griegos version, Los Posadas precedes the play and entails actors playing the parts of Mary and Joseph knocking on the doors of nine houses.
The remainder of the buildings in the district are considered to be contributing to the character of the district: they are similar in style and scale, and retain many of their major distinguishing details. A few of these contributing buildings were built after World War II, but were carefully designed to blend with the New Mexico Vernacular style prevalent in the district, and definitely contribute to the on-going vernacular tradition. These are 4814 Guadalupe Trail N.W., 5021 Guadalupe Trail N.W., 5105 Guadalupe Trail N.W., 1603 Bayita Lane N.W., 1908 ½ Griegos Road N.W., and 1616 Griegos Road N.W.
Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
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