The Kit Carson Home and Museum, still standing in its original footprint at 113 Kit Carson Road in Taos, was built circa 1825 and purchased by Kit Carson as a wedding gift for his third wife, Maria Josefa Jaramillo, a member of a prominent Taos family. The territorial style adobe building was to be their home for the next twenty five years. Seven of their eight children were born and raised in the home, along with several Native American children who had been freed by the Carsons from captivity.
After the death of Josefa Carson on April 27, 1868 and Kit Carson shortly after on May 23, 1868, the home changed ownership six times before it was purchased, in 1911, by the Grand Masonic Lodge of New Mexico to be maintained as a memorial to Freemason Kit Carson in perpetuity. In 1949, the Kit Carson Memorial Fund was formed in order to officially maintain and operate the buildings as a historic home and museum. In 1963 the Kit Carson Home and Museum was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. Some thirty years later a grant from the Service made it possible to hire an historic preservation architect to document the condition of the original structures and courtyard and to determine the historic use of the site from the time Kit Carson purchased the property.
Subsequent boards and staff have endeavored to preserve, intact and in original form, the home and courtyard where Kit Carson lived and where he acted as Indian agent for the Northern Ute and Taos Pueblo peoples – Agency affairs were reportedly conducted in the easternmost room of the home.
The present board plans to embark on a capital campaign to raise funds for restoration of the on-site building referred to as the Romero House. This original adobe structure belonged to a neighbor of the Carsons and is now part of Museum. Along with restoration of the Romero House, current preservation plans include improvements to museum exhibits and rebuilding of the wooden boardwalk that ran along the home’s original façade, thus restoring further the historic footprint.
It is by virtue of the very survival of this delicate historic home that we at the KCHM struggle to maintain the site much as it was in the 1800s. This survival is due to the vision of early New Mexican Freemasons and their efforts to preserve this important historic site. Today, the home attracts 20,000 visitors yearly from the United States and abroad.
The Kit Carson Home and Museum exists today because of these early visionaries. The site is a prime example of how important it is to protect and maintain important historic and cultural properties to keep history alive for future generations. The present board is committed to the continuation of historic preservation of the site via the most professional and academically researched means available.
Gallery Images by Terry Thompson Photography