FRIENDS of the TAYLOR FAMILY MONUMENT

J. Paul Taylor and family

Portrait by Paula Voris


J. Paul Taylor was born in Chamberino, to parents of Hispanic and Irish ancestry. Mr. Taylor spent more than three decades as a teacher, principal, and associate superintendent in the Las Cruces Public School system. After he retired, he served as a Representative for District 33 in the New Mexico legislature for nine consecutive terms (18 years). During his tenure he was known for his support of programs to help indigent and disabled New Mexicans, and as an advocate for arts and culture. Mr. Taylor has been called “the conscience of the New Mexico legislature.

Portrait by Paula Voris

 

Mary Daniels Taylor was a historian, paleographer, archivist, writer, and photographer. She also was a wife and a mother and an active member of the church and local community. Mary grew up in El Paso within a few blocks of the border at Smeltertown where her father was foreman of the cement plant. Her notable book, “A Place as Wild as the West Ever Was:  Mesilla, New Mexico: 1848-1872” was published in 2004.  Mary died in 2007.



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In 1947, J. Paul and Mary Daniels Taylor made a decision to raise their family in Mesilla, in part because they wanted their children to grow up in a multicultural community and feel a part of their Hispanic cultural heritage. Mr. Taylor often tells the story of a family friend who questioned their move to Mesilla, saying something like “just think about the culture your children will grow up in!” He recalls saying, “That’s my culture,” and feeling terribly insulted ... and sad.


The Taylors moved into the home in 1953 and made a number of changes to make the home more functional, including the installation of plumbing and electricity. They raised 7 children in this home: Robert, Dolores, Mike, Mary Helen, Pat, John, and Rosemary.

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In 1972, an L-shaped section of the old barnyard south of the wine room and kitchen was enclosed to make a large family room and a small oratorio. A major rehabilitation project was done in 1982 with the help of historic preservation grants. Work included a new corrugated metal roof, rewiring, plumbing improvements, structural stabilization, and re-plastering of the exterior adobe walls.

The generosity of the Taylor family has been applauded throughout New Mexico. When their donation was announced, the future monument was heralded for its potential to give local residents and visitors a new opportunity to explore and appreciate the culture of the Borderland. At last there would be a suitable place to tell the story of the Mesilla Valley and its people. An editorial in the Albuquerque Journal at the time observed that the Monument would be a “living reminder of Mesilla’s rich past” and a “grand legacy of two model citizens and their determination to preserve history for future generations.”

 

NM Senate Memorial 40 and NM House Memorial 22 recognized that the Taylors’ “extended their limitless kindness and generosity to each resident of the State of New Mexico” and declared that “...to permanently open one's doors to all is a selfless act rarely seen in today’s world.”

J. Paul and Mary Taylor's decision to donate the property - made in concert with the seven Taylor children - reflects their love of history, culture, and architecture and their commitment to the people of the Borderland. As described by Mr. Taylor, "Mary and I have loved this home and know that the Monuments [Division] will honor it in a way we feel it deserves.  This is also a tribute to the lasting feelings we Taylors have to the people of the Mesilla community." 

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The Quintessential Storyteller