Santa Fe Architectural Terms – Glossary
These are typical terms used when buying property in Santa Fe or anywhere in New Mexico, and should be helpful to you during your property search.
Acequia – Man made irrigation ditch.
Adobe – Mud brick that is dried in the sun. The first adobe bricks were used 8,500 years ago in the Middle East.
Alameda- Spanish for “Cottonwood Tree.” This word has come to mean a road bordered by cottonwoods.
Anasazi – Ancestral Pueblo Indians; the “Ancients.”
Arroyo – Dry riverbed that fills occasionally.
Aspen Tree – High elevation deciduous (drops it’s leaves in fall) tree with leaves that turn gold in the fall.
Banco – A bench made of adobe and covered with plaster.
Bosque – Low-lying area near rivers, densely forested with cottonwoods and other deciduous trees.
Camino – `Road” in Spanish.
Canale – A roof spout that carries water off a flat pueblo roof.
Casa – “House” or “home” in Spanish.
Coping – Decorative detail on the top edge of a building and around doors and windows.
Corbel – Short sculpted beam lying on top of a post or wall.
Escarpment Ordinances – New laws in the Santa Fe area prohibiting building on and excavation of mountainsides beyond a certain steepness.
Farolito – “Little Lantern,” typically a paper bag with a sand ballast and candle, lighted for Christmas festivities. Referred to as a Luminaria outside of Santa Fe.
Flagstone – Flat sheets of red or white stone mined locally, used for flooring in homes and on patios.
Historic Styles Ordinances – Regulations governing the architectural style of all buildings within the Historic District of downtown Santa Fe.
Horno – Freestanding adobe bread oven found at most pueblos and Indian homes.
Juniper Tree – High-desert evergreen that seldom grows more than 15 feet tall.
Kiva – A small “beehive-shaped” fireplace.
La Fonda – “The Hotel” in Spanish.
La Posada – “The Inn” in Spanish.
Latillas – Small branches used as ceiling planking, made of Aspen, pine or cedar.
Lintel – Wooden beam bridging window or door openings.
Luminaria – Fire built on the sidewalk on Christmas Eve for carolers to gather around. (See also Farolito.)
Mesa – Flattop mountain called “a table” in Spanish.
Nicho – Small shelf carved into a wall.
Paseo – Passage or walkway, or “to promenade.”
Piñon Tree – High-desert nut-bearing evergreen tree.
Plaza – Public square in the center of town, site of traditional evening paseo or “promenade.”
Portal – Patio attached to a home, covered with a fixed roof supported by posts.
Puerta – “Door” in Spanish.
Rumford Fireplace – Tall, shallow fireplace known for great efficiency.
Saltillo Tile – Simple fired earthen tile made in Saltillo, Mexico.
Stucco – Final cement color coat plastered in the exterior of an adobe-style building.
Talavera Tile – Colorful hand-decorated Mexican tile used for counter tops and trim.
Ventana – “Window” in Spanish.
Vigas – Round logs used as ceiling beams, either shaved or raw.