The New Mexico Land Conservancy received the “gift of a lifetime” when distinguished New Mexico philanthropist and outdoor enthusiast Jane Petchesky donated the 262-acre Petchesky Ranch, a landmark property near Santa Fe Community College, to our organization for use as our new center of operations and public education. The gift was made after Billie Blair, director of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, researched trust organizations in New Mexico on Ms. Petchesky’s behalf. Jane felt the goals and track record of NMLC were an ideal match to her lifelong interests in promoting and preserving New Mexico quality of life.
Jane and her husband, Gene, co-owned and operated The Guarantee store on the Santa Fe Plaza for many years. They were known for their love of the land, passion for horses and riding, community involvement and philanthropy.
The property, now known as the Petchesky Conservation Center, will allow the New Mexico Land Conservancy to have a significant presence in Santa Fe, offer space for workshops, meetings, and events, and will be instrumental in furthering Jane Petchesky’s passion for conserving open space in New Mexico.
Located in the heart of the Community College District on the south side of Santa Fe, the Petchesky Conservation Center is the headquarters of the New Mexico Land Conservancy. It was formerly the ranch home of Gene and Jane Petchesky, a couple well-known throughout the state for their business achievements, philanthropy and love of horses. A passionate conservationist, Jane Petchesky donated the ranch house and 262 acres of land to NMLC in February of 2009 in support of our mission.
After some planning and minor remodeling to prepare the home for its new role, a Grand Opening took place in June of 2009. In addition to housing NMLC offices, the Petchesky Conservation Center will be used as meeting and event space, generating revenue for operating expenses and conservation efforts. Changes and improvements continue to be made.
The Petchesky Conservation Center will also function as an education center for land conservation. Its location in the heart of Santa Fe Community College district is ideal for this purpose.
Two hundred and forty acres of the Petchesky Ranch were placed under a conservation easement by Jane Petchesky in 2004. The property also includes a trail easement along Arroyo Hondo that Jane Petchesky granted to Santa Fe County in 2005. The trail will be part of a larger trail system planned by the Santa Fe County Trails and Open Space Division for the Community College district.
History of the Ranch
“It was a good life,” Jane Petchesky says, summing up her forty years on the Petchesky Ranch, where she and husband Gene raised their son, and bred and trained champion quarter horses. At age 87, she realized a change was necessary and made plans to move into a Santa Fe retirement center. As part of her estate planning, she made the New Mexico Land Conservancy the beneficiary of the 262 acre ranch property in 2004. Two-hundred forty acres of the ranch had already been placed into a conservation easement. For Jane it was important not only to ensure that the ranch remained protected open space, but that it be used as a base for broader land conservation efforts.
Gene and Jane Petchesky were successful business people and leaders in the Santa Fe community. They operated The Guarantee store, a family-owned business on the Santa Fe plaza, for many years, and were known statewide for their philanthropic spirit and love of the New Mexico lifestyle.
In the late 1960s, they bought the ranch property—located west of Richards Ave. and south of highway I-25—to escape Santa Fe’s growing urban perimeter. Gene was involved with the American Quarter Horse Association and he and Jane both enjoyed raising horses and riding. Gene was also a co-founder of the Rodeo de Santa Fe.
From the beginning, the ranch was both a labor of love and a concept ahead of its time. Situated to take advantage of the best of sweeping mountain and grassland vistas, the house used passive solar energy and a system for capturing rooftop water to irrigate their gardens and fruit trees. The home was decorated with Pueblo pottery, Navajo rugs, and furniture made by Gene.
In later years, the city growth they thought they had escaped slowly began to creep toward the Petchesky ranch, with subdivisions, road systems and development encroaching upon the Petchesky’s unspoiled views. Jane was proactive in dealing with this. She helped create the Community College District, an 18,000-acre planning area that surrounds the Petchesky ranch. She fought for significant open space provisions and a trail system for the public to use and enjoy.
The Petchesky family’s legacy to New Mexico is more than just land and buildings. Jane and Gene stand out as real examples of community citizens who had both the foresight to see impending changes long before they happen, and the wisdom to stand up for the conservation of precious resources that need to be protected.