The City under the City
Founded about 1610 by Spanish colonists, the city of Santa Fe is one of the oldest non-Native American communities in the nation. However, the city was built on top of the ruins of occupations that probably began in the thirteenth century. The site of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, which opened in 2008, typifies a pattern of change that has occurred over the centuries.
The results of OAS excavations, currently being analyzed and written up, have revealed evidence of all periods of site occupation—prehistoric pit structures, wells, military latrines, and old school building foundations. The lowest levels at the site have the remains of an early village, perhaps established in the late 1200s. Our archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric pit structures that may have been homes or ceremonial chambers. It appears that the village was occupied until the first half of the fifteenth century, and people may have returned to the location in the latter part of that century.
The area may have been deserted by permanent residents until the Spanish colonists moved there around 1610, and construction of the Palace of the Governors began shortly afterwards. The original Palace, or presidio, encompassed the area where the Convention Center now stands. Military and government operations went on in the Palace until the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, when Spanish residents were forced out of New Mexico for 12 years. The city was reoccupied by the Spaniards, and the Palace of the Governors was again used as a center of government. After the US military took control of New Mexico in 1846, the old presidio was turned into a military headquarters, and many alterations were made. The army used the post until 1895 and gave it to the city. Several school buildings were then built on the site and razed over time.