Santa Fe Architectural Terms

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.

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