Size: 9 acres
Location: Bernalillo County
Eco-Region: Rio Grande Floodplain Level III
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Scenic Open Space, Wildlife
Type of Project: Donated Conservation Easement
Date Completed: December 2016
Rarely do we at NMLC have the opportunity to work with landowners who want to protect, not only their important scenic open space and agricultural land, but also a historic architectural gem, listed on both the State of New Mexico and the National Register of Historic Places. That opportunity came our way when the Hank and Bonnie Kelly approached us to help conserve their Los Ranchos de Albuquerque farm and their restored John Gaw Meem home.
An iconic relic of the North Valley’s agricultural heritage, the 9-acre property sits along scenic Rio Grande Boulevard in the heart of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. The irrigated fields and mature cottonwood trees provide a foreground for views to the Sandia Mountains and a refuge for urban wildlife, including many overwintering migratory birds such as sandhill cranes and Canada geese. The land, most of which is under irrigation, was once a magnificent 100+ acre farm dating back to the early 1900s. The agricultural use remains today, including small-scale gardening and hay production, but also includes wildlife habitat, scenic enjoyment and recreational uses.
The residence is a symbol of New Mexico’s unique architectural history. The Kellys restored the home at considerable effort, and in accordance with the original blueprints envisioned by Meem. The structure, along with the surrounding land, will be maintained in perpetuity as a symbol of a period of renaissance in Southwestern architecture. This conservation project exemplifies the protection of a rich tapestry of history, cultural and open space made possible by dedicated stewards.