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Paolo Soleri, Part 2

sfissign.5.30.2010In this morning’s Journal, Kathaleen Roberts writes that the Paolo Soleri Theater “was considered for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places” (which would have afforded it Federal protection) but that “the effort fizzled.” What happened was much worse.

In 1994, some two dozen buildings on the old Indian School campus — apparently including the amphitheater — were deemed eligible for the historic register. That is an important distinction. Whenever Federal funds are involved in a project, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act gives eligible buildings the same regard as those that have already been admitted to the list: strict procedures involving public disclosure and consultation with other agencies must be followed before the buildings can be destroyed.

If eligible buildings are “transferred, leased, or sold out of Federal ownership or control,” then Interior Department regulations (36 CFR Part 800 — Protection of Historic Properties) require that “adequate and legally enforceable restrictions or conditions” be put in place “to ensure long-term preservation of the property’s historic significance.”

As we’ve written here before, the Bureau of Indian Affairs violated Federal law by failing to include those provisions when it handed over the school to the All Indian Pueblo Council. (Again please see my original letter to the Inspector General of Interior for details.) This may be more than a matter of negligence or incompetence. If officials within the BIA ignored the requirements while knowing of the Pueblo Council’s secret plans to raze the campus, they may also be guilty of conspiracy to circumvent the law. This is what I have been trying to get the Inspector General of the Interior Department to investigate.

If the leaders of the Pueblo Council now plan to put the Paolo Soleri on the chopping block, a good time to watch for the wrecking cranes will be some dark night in July. That is when the Pueblo Council has indicated that it will tear down the Academics building, which was constructed in 1962 in International style and has been leased recently to the Tierra Encantada Charter School. A second International-style structure, the Administration building, will probably also be leveled then, along with the U-shaped Arts and Craft building, which was designed and built by John Gaw Meem in 1931 and earned him his commission to remodel the rest of the school in the same Spanish Pueblo Revival Style.

Of these buildings, only the third is on the eligible list. Here is how it was described by Sally Hyer in her report, “Santa Fe Indian School Historic District”: “This building faces on the main campus walk and is surrounded by spruce, elm, and poplar trees and a grassy lawn.” No longer. It is the same building pictured in the forefront of the photograph I posted in yesterday’s installment, a barren wasteland of weeds.

Related posts: A Special Report: The Mysterious Destruction of the Santa Fe Indian School

George Johnson
The Santa Fe Review


I just heard from a staff member at the Indian School that the demolition of the Paolo Soleri is a done deal.

	Supposedly they will issue a press release one of these days . . .
	Apparently the Board of Trustees is behind the decision and they
	have an architectural image of what the "new" campus should look
	like . . . We have a meeting in the morning. Not sure if the Paolo
	will be addressed, but I would say the majority of the staff is
	against the demolition.

Not that it will make a difference. The Pueblo Council runs the tax-supported school as though it were its personal fief.