The Amador Collection

The Amador family was one of the most prominent Spanish families to have first settled Las Cruces around the late 1850s, as well as being one of the best historically documented. The University Museum acquired 600 items from the Amador family home before it was razed in 1962. The Amador collection contains clothing and textiles, children’s toys and dolls, housewares, and miscellaneous items such as fans. The decedents of the Amador family still continue to donate cherished heirlooms to the museum; therefore, we have been able to preserve a fair amount of history and memories pertaining to the Amador family, one that reflects the origins of the city of Las Cruces.


Many of Martín Amador’s accomplishments secured the future existence of Las Cruces, such as owning a mercantile in Silver City and Las Cruces, several farms in Mesilla Valley, served on several civic commissions and committees, donated money to start the first public school system in Las Cruces, and if that wasn’t enough, Martín donated a considerable amount of land that would then bring the railroad system to Las Cruces in 1881.


The Amador House, which was completed in 1879 then demolished in 1962, was known as La Casa del Jardín for the elegant garden that was established there for his wife, Refugio Ruiz. Martín and Refugio both passed in the early 1900s, but their two youngest daughters of five that lived to adulthood, inherited the home. Clotilde and her husband were the last to live in the Amador house, until Clotilde passed in 1960.


In a 2006 article in La Herencia written by one of the University Museum’s prior curators who has been dedicated to researching the histories of El Paso del Norte, Mesilla Valley, and particularly the Amador family, Dr. Terry R. Reynolds writes, “Rather than storing fruits and vegetables in ground floor rooms, Clotilde had collected photographs, newspapers, catalogs, magazines, and various bits and pieces of household goods and furnishings. This material was unsuitable for auction, and her descendants gave the New Mexico State University Library permission to search among these rooms for items of historical value. Two truckloads of paper and objects were taken to the university, where all the objects of historical significance were catalogued and stored by the NMSU Museum.”


Our collection at the NMSU Museum combined with the NMSU Archive and Special Collections located in Breland Library together form the best documented 19th century Hispanic Family history available. The Amador Hotel and Foundation still stands.