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The Building Restoration

La Sala de San Jose. Photo by Ernest Knee, 1938

In the Fall of 2008, La Sala de Galisteo, a non-profit organization, was formed to restore, preserve, and maintain the historic La Sala de San José building in the heart of Galisteo, New Mexico. This adobe structure was built in 1899 as a community dance hall and meeting place for the local church men’s group known as the Sociedad and has played a significant role in the life and history of Galisteo and the surrounding area through the decades.


In 2009 we employed Cornerstones Community Partnerships’ expert technical staff in Santa Fe to conduct a Conditions Assessment and Preservation Plan. The information was gathered and has directed all restoration work. We hired and partnered with Dale Zinn, a local preservation architect, to draw plans for the first critical restoration phases which were partially funded by the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area and included:

  1. stabilization of the front stair area, walls and foundation
  2. upgrading the electrical system
  3. repairs on interior wall plaster from leaking canales
  4. sanding of the badly water discolored ceiling and vigas
  5. adding a handicap entrance on the north side of the building
  6. begin the repair and painting of all 10 wall windows and front entrance windows and doors.

Help from community volunteer labor, trainees and much donated material has the building already breathing new life into the center of Galisteo.

In the summer of 2013, under the direction of Cornerstones a bracing design and entry “sala” allowed extensive rebuilding work to be done on the building’s front adobe walls.

Adobe making is a huge part of NM history and many adobes were needed to reconstruct the front wall of this structure. Local trainees, student interns and village volunteers took advantage of the opportunity to participate, watch and learn the “how” and “why” of this unique building method under the supervision of Cornerstones.

At some point in its history, the building was encased in a concrete/stucco covering that initially kept the mud plaster from melting away too quickly, but over time has prevented the building from thoroughly drying out after rain–a process that is imperative to healthy adobe mud structures.

The removal of this covering was another project for volunteers and interns as we discovered what happens over decades of time to ‘over-protected’ adobe mud. Applying a new mud covering and the final painting of all windows and doors will give the place its youthful look again! 100 years in the making!

2014 saw a continuation of our youth intern program and finishing the exterior and interior stitching together of adobes. More coats of mud were added all around the building with the help of volunteers and Cornerstones. A handicap walkway was added to the North side exit door and we made preparations for improving the front steps.

In 2015 we rebuilt the front steps and added railings. The handicap walkway was connected to the front stair walkway to make access easier for everyone. We built a much needed storage shed in back of the building and received a community water hookup. We also completed repairs to the interior bancos and the stage floor.

The adobe making, front wall reconstruction, traditional mud plaster and handicap access projects finally improved both the look, safety and structure of the building — with interior plastering and painting we will literally turn La Sala de San José into our Art Center.

Youth Interns

Juan Montoya
Emily Montoya
Joseph Sandoval
Joseph Garcia
John Garcia
Olivier Bulger