An old farmhouse, considered one of the oldest structures in Corrales, has been designated a historic property by the Corrales Historical Society. The old residence at 4655 Corrales Road, now owned by Susanna Chavez and Doug Findley, was listed in the State of New Mexico’s Register of Historic Properties in 2010. “The Elias Martinez Farmhouse reflects its status as the home of a hard-working farmer who took advantage of existing walls to expand his home. It provides a window into Corrales before it succumbed to mid-20th century development pressures and helps tell the story of the village’s long Hispanic agricultural history,” according to the description for the State Register.
“The largely intact front portion of the house embodies how a remodeled old adobe home in a Hispanic village of the 1920s would appear. Most of the windows throughout the oldest sections date to the 1920s as do its doors, and the ceilings in the oldest part of the house feature milled board tablas.
“Although altered in the 1960s, from Corrales Road the house appears little changed from its 1920s appearance and is one of a handful in the commercial center of Corrales that retains an early appearance.” Referred to as the Elias Martinez Farmhouse, it is “a rare well-preserved example of vernacular New Mexican farm houses built during the 19th century and modestly expanded in the early 20th century.
“Elias Martinez, its primary owner, and the builder of the 1920s expansion, was a descendant of 18th century Corrales settlers, and farmed in the Corrales valley all his life. Although Corrales began to change after World War II when adventuresome newcomers discovered the quiet farming village, a sensitive remodeling done in the 1960s preserved the essential elements of the Martinez Farmhouse so that even now it reflects the architectural heritage of Corrales before World War II,” the description continues.
“Corrales’ recorded history begins with the Alameda Land Grant given in 1710 to Francisco Montes Vigil, a soldier in the Spanish army. Vigil was unable to settle on his grant as required by Spanish law, so sold it in 1712 to Capitán Juan Gonzales Bas who was then living in Bernalillo. The central portion of Corrales was reportedly bought from Gonzales by Salvador Martinez early in the 18th century.
“Little is recorded of Corrales during the first 150 years of its existence since it was not on the major trade routes along the river from Santa Fe; even by 1870 the census records only 141 households with 687 residents. Nearly all were farmers, ranchers or laborers. As the population grew, the land was divided into long, narrow strips, stretching from the river to the sandhills. Prominent Hispanic family names included Gonzales, Martin (or Martinez), Gutiérrez, Cordova, Chaves, Montoya, Armijo, Silva, Perea and Sandoval.
“European immigrants, mainly from France and Italy, began to settle in the village after 1860; several established extensive vineyards and Corrales became known for its wine and brandy production. By the 1930s many of the vineyards were gone, replaced by acres of orchards. These consisted primarily of apple trees, but also included cherry, apricot, and peach trees.
Elias Martinez, age 16, first appears on Corrales censuses in 1880 as one of four sons (Martino, Elias, Ardino and Carlos) of Cristobal Martinez and Guadalupe Gutierrez.… Elias is the owner of record of this property on both the 1927 and 1941 property appraisal records from the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. He was a farmer and the 1927 map shows his chicken pen, garages, a large garden, orchard and vineyards, and his corn field. “Corrales resident Dulcie Curtis told a historic building surveyor in 1981 that the house had been owned by one of the four Martinez brothers. She also told the surveyor that the house was considered by long time Corraleños as one of the oldest in the village.
“The front half of the home has seen relatively little change since the 1920s when a simple two-room addition was built into the 19th century L-shape of the house. “Historic information on the house is scant, but fortunately a student in Professor Bainbridge Bunting’s Architecture 261 class at the University of New Mexico wrote a paper on the house in 1967. The wife of the student author, James Bushman, had family connections with the Wood family who were living in the house at the time. Bushman surveyed the house, drew a house plan and details of some of its components, interviewed the Wood family, and spoke with Corrales residents about the house.
“The chronology of the house given in Bushman’s paper is that it was built in 1818 and added to in 1925; owners noted in the paper… were (in order) Bonifacio Carrillo, Donaciano Perea, and Elias Martinez who is said to have bought the property in 1914.…
“Martinez owned the property until his death in 1943; MRGCD records state that of the 3.42 acres adjacent to his home, 1.40 acres were in orchard and garden (including a vineyard) and an equal acreage in field crops, leaving .62 acre as the homesite. He also owned and farmed other narrow parcels bought from Donaciano Perea in 1914. Three years after his death, Elias Martinez’s wife, Antonia, sold their house to Christopher Fitzgerald, an Irish miner turned farmer who lived in the house until 1962 when he sold it to H. B. Wood. According to Corrales residents who knew Fitzgerald, he was cheerful and hard-working, but during his tenure in the old house it was beginning to deteriorate. Fitzgerald sold it to H. B. Wood in 1962 and Wood soon built the rear addition…. Wood’s daughter-in-law, Mary, sold the house to Susanna Chavez in 2004.”