Raton Downtown Historic District

  • Vicinity: Roughly bounded by Rio Grande, Clark, 1st and 3rd Sts
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Historic District

Located at an elevation of 6,660 feet, Raton was built at the base of a major landform known as Goat Hill, which continues to serve as a landmark for the community with its neon "Raton" sign, which dates to the early 1930s. The town site was developed on a grid system with tree-lined streets that climb to the west, rising 100 feet in elevation. The rolling topography of the residential district to the west, listed in the National Register as the Original Townsite Historic District in 2007, counters the rigidity of the gridded commercial district. - NRHP, March 2014



Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1911/00/00 I H Rapp, W M Rapp and A C Hendrickson, Architects Architect Elks Lodge BPOE 865 in Raton opens, 300 S 2nd St
1915/04/27 I H Rapp, W M Rapp and A C Hendrickson, Architects Architect Shuler Theater opens, 131 N 2nd St

Data »

Particulars for Raton Downtown Historic District:
Area of Significance Architecture
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Area of Significance Business
Area of Significance Entertainment - Recreation
Area of Significance Exploration-settlement
Sight Category Historic District
Criteria Historic Event
Historic Use Hotel
Area of Significance Industry
Architectural Style Neoclassical
Owner Private
Architectural Style Spanish Colonial Revival
Area of Significance Theatre
Area of Significance Transportation

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration: 21st October 1977

Registry Name: Raton Downtown Historic District
Registry Address: Roughly bounded by Rio Grande, Clark, 1st and 3rd Sts.
Registry Number: 77000923
Resource Type: District
Owner: Private, Local
Architect: unknown
Architectural Style: Classical revival, Other
Attribute: Spanish Colonial Revival
Area in Acres: 20
Contributing Buildings: 95
Non-Contributing Buildings: 32
Certification: Listed in the National Register
Level of Significance: State
Area of Significance: Industry, Transportation, Entertainment-recreation, Exploration-settlement, Architecture
Applicable Criteria: Event, Architecture-Engineering
Period of Significance: 1900-1924, 1875-1899, 1850-1874
Significant Year: c 1878
Historic Function: Domestic, Recreation and Culture, Commerce, Trade
Historic Sub-Function: Hotel, Theater, Business
Current Function: Recreation and Culture, Domestic, Commerce, Trade
Current Sub-Function: Hotel Business Theater

History »

Located at the foot of the Raton Pass, the town grew alongside the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. Bartlett Mesa frames the town on the north. Prior to 1911, the major north - south streets in town were named for the AT & SF, a fitting practice since the railroad laid out the town. Today, the commercial district roughly includes First Street (formerly Railroad Avenue), Second Street (formerly Santa Fe Avenue), and the east side of Third Street (formerly Topeka Avenue), which run parallel to the railroad tracks, between Apache and Parsons avenues. This area encompasses part of Maxwell North Addition and the Original Townsite. Within the business district, First Street developed in the late nineteenth century, with substantial, mostly brick, commercial buildings, constructed in styles such as Romanesque Revival and Italianate. By 1911, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps show that blocks 1, 2, 7, and 8 of the Original Townsite had been predominantly developed. Today, Second Street (Highway 64/85) functions as the major traffic corridor through town, and Highway 25 skirts Raton to the east.

The commercial lots measure 25 feet wide by 140 feet deep. Rear service alleys, measuring 20 feet wide, run north-south and are paved with a combination of gravel and asphalt. Paved streets, measuring approximately 100 feet wide, with low curbs and concrete sidewalks are laid throughout the district. The district includes various stamped concrete sidewalks, which are considered contributing structures. Examples are found on North 3rd Street across from the Colfax County Courthouse where "ERA" stamps are clearly visible, as well as round Mendenhall Contractor stamps on South First Street. There is also a Raton Cement Construction Co. Raton, NM stamp on Rio Grande Avenue (Photo 3). The commercial district includes numerous street trees, many of which were planted post-1976.1 Ripley Park, a landscaped city green that originated between 1911 and 1919, is located at the north end of the district.

In recent years, there was one significant loss to the historic district. In 2012, a fire destroyed the former Seaburg European Hotel, which was listed as a contributing building in the early nomination. At the turn of the century, Swedish immigrant Hugo Seaburg expanded an old livery stable into a fashionable hotel, which was later popularly known as the El Portal. In 2013, the site and remnants of the building were cleared from the lot.

Early residential sections were developed to the west, south, and northeast of the main thoroughfare and commercial district. Historic residences intermingle with commercial resources at the district's western boundary of Third Street. The area to the west and south includes the more stylistic and substantial houses built by railroad executives, coal company owners, and merchants. The area to the northeast includes vernacular dwellings and Hipped Box cottages, many of which were moved into town from the coal camps once they were disbanded.

Raton may be compared with Las Vegas, New Mexico, a plaza and railroad town about 90 miles to the southwest. Similar late nineteenth-century development patterns and architectural styles are found in both communities, and the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in both communities by 1880. Raton also warrants comparison to Telluride, Colorado, only 20 miles north across the state line. Both towns, founded only two years apart, share a similar climate and geography. Historically, Telluride was also a mining town, extracting zinc, lead, copper, gold, and silver ore. - NRHP, March 2014

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