• January 19, 2022
 12 Duranguito Properties Set For State Antiquities Landmark Nomination

Photo courtesy Jon Eckberg

12 Duranguito Properties Set For State Antiquities Landmark Nomination

Via a news release on Wednesday, preservationists announced that 11 properties owned by the City of El Paso and one property owned by a private party in Duranguito are being nominated to the Texas Historical Commission (THC).

Should the properties be approved as State Antiquities Landmarks, the archaeological remains below ground receive legal protection under the Antiquities Code of Texas.

The nominators are Dr. Max Grossman, Dr. David Carmichael, Mr. Harry W. “Skip” Clark, and Ms. Elia Perez .

Dr. Grossman shares, “This is an important step in the process of preserving archaeological sites in Duranguito for all El Pasoans…we are confident that the THC will approve the nominations in the near future.”

The structures in the area – as well as the archaeological sites buried just below the foundations of the buildings – are within the footprint of the proposed downtown arena, which is currently in legal limbo.

Preservationists cite several surveys and original plats from the mid- to late-19th century, that indicate the locations of historic remnants – including Juan Maria Ponce de Leon’s original ranch and the two acequias (irrigation ditches) that were used for irrigating the fields that existed long before the towering skyscrapers of Downtown El Paso.

According to the preservationists, a 1998 archaeological survey conducted by the City of El Paso identifies the probable remains of Ponce’s 1st ranch, just below the surface.

They add, “The same survey included a ground-penetrating radar study conducted by archaeologist Mark Willis. That study identified probable structural remains (architecture) in the area of Chihuahua Street and [also] West Overland Avenue.”

In addition to the studies, actual excavation in the area revealed more of the city’s long-buried history.

In the release announcing the nominations, Dr. Grossman shares:

“Archaeological excavations in 1970 and 1984 immediately to the north and east of the Arena Footprint identified the physical remains of the “Acequia Madre,” which is a second acequia that traversed Duranguito further to the north, where the Convention Center is now located. The Convention Center excavation confirmed that the 1827 stratum lies very deep below ground.”

The group goes on to explain that the nomination process is quite different from a historical designation.

“The Texas Antiquities Code and Texas Natural Resources Code are complex and require much attention to understand…archaeological sites are not the same thing as structures above ground. The law provides that nominating a structure as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL) requires registration on the National Register of Historic Places…this is NOT required for archaeological nominations.”

Any citizen can nominate a public property or a private property (with the owner’s consent) as an archaeological SAL provided the criteria are met.

***Click here read our previous coverage of the Downtown Arena saga.

Staff Report

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  • Those twelve properties are nothing but PIGSTY’S there is nothing historical there but old dilapidated eyesores that the landlords neglected decades ago.We need to move El Paso forward not dwell in dumps and old garbage.
    Out of towners keep interfering with downtown progress,this is an El Paso issue and Max Grossman should buzz off.

    • I’m a Native El Pasoan and I say SAVE Durangito! No stadium.

    • Whether a sports arena in Duranguito is good for El Paso is quite debatable, although sports may not be allowed if the court decision is upheld. State Antiquities Landmark designation is more than a tactic but rather an important step in preserving the history of the area. The history has spoken for itself and been brought to light by respected, accomplished, professional historians as well as has been proven through various studies. For the city to proceed with demolition of any kind with disregard for the facts at hand and the community’s outcry for preservation and collaboration for the area’s future would be irresponsible. We can save Duranguito and make it into a great attraction for tourists, locals, and natives. Arenas, stadiums, performance venues and such are plentiful and flexible in our region, and new facilities would be welcome additions in most other parts of town, but there is only one Duranguito to be respected along with the community, and to be treasured as a cultural, historical, archaeological, and economic asset for the city.

  • Now a famous ditch was in the area? Full of loaded diapers, broken bottles and old copies of LOOK magazine no doubt. Hey Mr. Grossman instead of complaining about our taxes being too high, why don’t you stop costing the tax-payers city legal fees in trying to preserve your legacy. This is beyond stupid and costly to the people of this city.

  • The City of El Paso purchased the Chinese laundry from Billy Abraham today for $800,000. so that is another great move and a better chance to get this arena built. Good post Mr Andy Werner!
    This so called ancient acequia madre that Max Grossman is so concerned about, he makes it sound as if it were something great like the Roman aqueduct.
    He should have been around to save the Rio Grande or maybe have it restored back to what it looked like in 1888, if he is so concerned about archaeological history.
    Better yet, move to Egypt and leave El Paso alone.

  • I think its funny how this one man is standing in the way of hundreds of thousands of people getting the arena. The funniest part is that he isn’t even a native El Pasoan SMDH! GO AWAY MAX GROSSMAN!!!!

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