(LACF News) – Georgia Strickfaden has always had a love affair with Los Alamos history. It might have begun as a young teen exploring on horseback the northern mesas and canyons of Los Alamos County. In the Stable Area on North Mesa, she was intrigued by two unique homestead houses among the other more recently constructed barns.
“By studying, reading history, exploring and volunteering at the History Museum, I became aware of the remnants of the overlooked and forgotten Hispanic influence, especially our homestead era 1880-1942…hand-made wagon roads, homestead houses of logs and deteriorating barbed-wire fencing dating to US Forest Service grazing allotments,” said Strickfaden.
Now Strickfaden has turned that love for history and preservation into action by creating the Pajarito Plateau Heritage Preservation Endowment at the Los Alamos Community Foundation with an initial gift of $10,000.
“I am pleased to be able to utilize savings that was accrued by Buffalo Tours/Atomic City Tours for preserving Los Alamos History, in particular pre-WW II homestead cabins and New Mexico agricultural heritage,” said Strickfaden. “I just call it the Cabins Fund for short.”
The purpose of the fund is to provide for the preservation of the historic heritage of primarily the Pajarito Plateau region. Preference will be given for the preservation of the Homestead Era environment, to potentially include things such as buildings, features, and the study of agricultural practices.
“Recognizing and assisting in the preservation of homestead cabins, roads and the agricultural pre-WW II heritage of the Pajarito Plateau is the reason I am establishing the Cabins Fund through the Los Alamos Community Foundation,” Strickfaden said. “Recognizing, valuing, and teaching about an era that abruptly ended with the Manhattan Project take-over of the Pajarito Plateau will enhance the depth of our current existence in this wonderful place.”
Currently, the Los Alamos Historical Society is not able to take on the restoration of homestead cabins on North Mesa. Strickfaden hopes that by establishing this endowment, funds will grow to assist in preservation and restoration projects and even heritage education surrounding the Pajarito Plateau.
Elizabeth Martineau, executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Society echoed the need for preservation dollars. “Preservation is a worthwhile, but expensive endeavor. We look forward to the additional support that the Pajarito Plateau Heritage Preservation Endowment will provide to preserve homesteading properties and our local history,” said Martineau.
“We hike and ride on the roads and trails that were built by hand, we cultivate gardens where there once were large fields, we revel in the same landscape where livestock once grazed, and we endure the droughts and storms as they did as they worked for their livelihoods,” said Strickfaden. “By preserving history, we learn more about ourselves.”
Public contributions to the fund are welcome, and can be made at https://alamos.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/list.
About the Los Alamos Community Foundation: Established in 2015, the focus of the Los Alamos Community Foundation is to improve the quality of life in our community by inspiring, facilitating and supporting enduring philanthropy, and building the capacity and success of our local nonprofit organizations. The Los Alamos Community Foundation currently stewards eleven local endowed funds and has total assets of more than $800,000. For more information about the Los Alamos Community Foundation, visit www.losalamoscf.org.