Santa Fe, Sappho, Cecily and Northern Exposure

Santa Fe was not originallyAdobe Central. In fact, until the 1920s you would have been hard pressed to find any adobe in town. Santa Fe looked a lot like every other wood frame, wood sided western town. Then came the Russian Revolution.

In 1917 Madame Vera von Blumenthal, of the minor Russian nobility, and her lover, Miss Rose Dugan arrived. They settled in what is now known as "Duchess Castle" and were originally interested in promoting Russian handicrafts in the U.S. Rose Dugan was a flier, wealthy and rather sickly. they summered in Santa Fe, actually closer to Los Alamos, and wintered in Pasadena.

They soon became interested in the native Indian arts and encouraged the archeologist Edgar Lee Hewitt and his assistant Kenneth Chapman to encourage Native American artists and together, they helped build a market for their works. By the time the 1920s came around, Santa Fe was on the art world maps and you started getting the likes of the Zozobra and Georgia O'Keefe. The town began to adobe-ize and never looked back.

If you remember the television series Northern Exposure, the town was founded by an artistically inclined lesbian couple, one of whom was sickly. Could this have been a reference to Santa Fe? Perhaps to Sappho? Possibly? Except, of course, you've seen the level of art work in Sappho.

For more on the adobe-ization of Santa Fe, check out Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn.

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