On Location: La Mesita Ranch
The backdrop for our September 2012 Lou Diamond Phillips cover has a rich backstory all its own.
You know that La Mesita Ranch is a very special place when visitors are greeted by Precious, a disabled brown and white miniature horse who has been rescued and will live out the rest of his life on this spectacular property. Located in the lush Nambe Valley near Santa Fe, New Mexico, with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the ranch now boasts a state-of-the-art equestrian center. The property is also leased out by the day for special events and celebrations; recently the HBO movie, Game Change, starring Julianne Moore, spent several days filming there.
The history of La Mesita dates back to the 1300s, when the Nambe Valley was first inhabited by Native Americans, who established a religious and cultural center for the pueblo people. Many of their artifacts were excavated during the development of the property and are now found in museums throughout the state.
There are 19 pueblos and three reservations in New Mexico, sovereign nations on lands afforded to tribal trusts. La Mesita is part of the Pueblo of Pojoaque.
• Read the September 2012 cover story on Lou Diamond Phillips.
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Originally, the pueblo land grant was 13,438.15 acres, but by the turn of the 20th century, they had lost more than 1,800 acres of their best lands to encroaching settlers. In 2009, the pueblo was able to re-purchase La Mesita, adding 130 acres back into the original acreage.
“La Mesita Ranch is part of our aboriginal property and an important piece of land for the Pueblo,” explains George Rivera, Tribal Governor of the Pueblo of Pojoaque. “When we purchased the property several years ago, it was the largest single piece of private land within our pueblo boundaries not owned by us.”
In the late 1800s, the Pueblo of Pojoaque sold the land to D.C. Collier, a San Diego land developer, who named the property Pojoaquito Ranch. From the early 1900s to 1989, the property changed hands several times and, as the westward migration continued, the area became home to many prominent American business families. Among them was Cyrus McCormick Jr., the son of the inventor of the reaper, who renamed the ranch “La Mesita,” the Spanish name for a little mesa (one is located near the home he built on the property). McCormick hired renowned architect John Gaw Meem to design the original La Mesita four-bedroom adobe residence, which was fully restored in 1993 with an added library, meditation center, pool, and tennis courts.
In addition to La Mesita, the Pojoaque Pueblo also owns the neighboring Santa Fe Golf Resort & Spa at Buffalo Thunder Resort. With revenues from Buffalo Thunder, La Mesita, and other local businesses, the pueblo has created over 1,700 jobs.
La Mesita and Buffalo Thunder Resort are managed by the Hilton Hotel Group. Several hundred residents of the pueblo work at the property.
Continuing to upgrade the ranch without losing its historical significance, La Mesita had successfully blended the past with the present, creating an upscale property and an equestrian boarding center with verdant pastures, spacious stalls and a ventilated riding arena. All this, in the center of the beautiful Pojoaque Pueblo.