Reginald Richey, an ex-chairman of the board, in 2017 was paid $7,800 to write up a revision of the appendices to the Ordinance. This revision process was not exactly conducted behind closed doors but it was done quietly at a “special meeting” with only a few people being specifically informed of the process. It was rather secretive, though, because another ex-chairman, Bill Strouser, was not informed of the process at all but only stumbled in at the end because he happened to see the (only required) advertisement at the Lincoln post office. Elaine Allen, county commissioner, boasted that she was “unaware of any opposition to Richey doing the work.” (Ruidoso News, Diane Stallings, Nov. 8, 2016) There were no objections because no one knew what was going on!
These recently revised appendices to the Ordinance (which are somehow not supposed to be used as law but are still supposed to be used as the definitive set of standards by the board and all future generations of Lincolnites!) include 4 categories of houses in the district:
- Pivotal: Those which are considered excellent examples of an architectural style.
- Supportive: Those which are contemporary in period and compatible in style and massing, but do not represent outstanding architectures of a high style. This category includes buildings whose original integrity has been seriously compromised.
- Non-contributive: Those which are not contemporary in period and may be dissimilar in size, massing or material.
- Intrusive: Those which detract from the overall historic character of the area. (Ordinance Appendix, p. 34)
No indication is given in this “non-law” section as to which is to be permissible and which is not. From this vagueness one might even be able to suppose that one could build a non-contributive or intrusive building and the board would have to approve it!
In Zone B there are only 2 or 3 intact houses (arguably) from the Territorial period that have survived. There are a handful of ruins in various stages of decay that might or might not come from the Territorial period. If anyone is certain who actually lived in any of these trash heaps, not a single person who lived there has made any significant contribution to history. How can this miniscule amount of historically valid properties ever justify enslaving 10 square miles of Zone B properties for the benefit of a few businesses in Zone A?
But more nauseating in Lincoln is that politics intrudes into and even defines “historicity.” The biggest question is:
The latest example of the district’s hypocrisy is that L.M. Smith, current chairman of the historical board, wants the Girrards’ house to burn down. There are other houses that are in worse condition, especially the old ruins, but Smith says nothing about burning those down because he considers them as at least supportive to the ordinance. But the Girrards’ house is closer by far to the historical standards than is Smith’s. L.M. Smith’s house (which seems to be scaled to dwarf the local truly historical buildings like Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors and which more resembles a Virginia colonial style house with a stucco exterior) and his Pennsylvania Dutch barn (which was reportedly supposed to be concealed by vegetation he seems unable to grow) have no connection whatsoever with the Territorial period and present a stark contrast to the buildings of Zone A that have survived. The Girrards’ house was designed in direct comparison with the pictures provided with the historical ordinance in 1999 and has been called by many the most historical looking house of the entire district. The only departure the Girrards’ house has from the Territorial period is the large garage door which was included as a concession to the ordinance’s inequitable requirement that all RVs must be concealed.
Another previous board chairman, Reginald Richey, similarly built a Swiss chalet that is completely inconsistent with the buildings built in the Territorial period in Lincoln. Also within the district are Santa Fe styled stucco mansions too large to have ever been built in the Territorial period, a modern straw bale breeze way design, a Hollywood “western” log house, two Missouri homestead houses, a German barn (because someone had one in the district once) and several “old” (50+ years) “landmark” type houses that post-date the Territorial period.
No one hardly mentions or recognizes as historically valid the long-since torn down railroad’s buildings (even though the railroad was as integral a part of Lincoln’s Territorial period history as were the Hispanic homesteads and the greed-inspired Lincoln County war). Almost completely lost and forgotten are the tiny adobe huts of the homesteaders – today one driving through Zone B would think that Territorial period Lincoln was populated by rich mansion builders rather than dirt-poor homesteaders, ranchers and farmers! Historical revision has run rampant in Zone B!
This haphazard non-adherence to the standards of the Territorial period has resulted in historical fiction and not historical preservation but nonetheless Zone B is still forced to endure and adhere to the Board’s petty, erratic, schizophrenic and oppressive “interpretations” of the ordinance.
The people who have made the most intrusive contributions to the historic district – but who are neither challenged, oppressed nor harassed in the slightest way for this departure from the historic standards – are the wealthy elites who moved in from somewhere else, took up positions on the board and then inflicted their own personal opinions on their neighbors. These people are not elected to these positions and they are most difficult to remove from the board because they have money and lawyers and wield undue influence on the county commissioners who appoint (and who could but most often won’t remove) them.
Zone B must be set free from the historic standards because there is not sufficient historicity left in Zone B to preserve and the oppressiveness of the board is far too high a price to pay. Too many historicals have come in with their nostalgias and fantasies and transformed whatever genuine historical aesthetics into a gated community for the wealthy and elite, a gated community enforced by the county government who feels no requirement to adhere to standards of justice and truth but instead calls it appropriate to be “strong” as the board continues to bully the homeowners. Still worse, the board and the county have now demonstrated that implied threats of arson are appropriate against those who don’t conform to the expectations and demands of the wealthy, intrusive elitists.
Is someone trying to start the Lincoln County war up again?