Epic Poem of 1610 Documented the Early History of America

The earliest record of the written word in this country began in New Mexico. It was in the year 1610 that Captain Gaspar Perez de Villagra had published his epic poem, La Historia de Nuevo Mexico. His narrative chronicled the Spanish expedition that led to the first European founding of America. This first-ever historical account included the depiction of the cruelty by the Spanish colonists toward the Native Americans.

The First Written Word in Santa Fe

Gaspar Perez de Villagra (1555–1620) traveled with Juan de Oñate in the 1598 expedition to New Mexico. The soldier-scribe documented the first European foothold in North America. Villagra’s poem provided the history of the Spanish soldiers. The ancient narrative described their arduous journey. The entourage encountered a treacherous hot desert along the Camino Real. Even the soldier’s horses suffered from consuming thirst.

New Mexico State Building Named for Gaspar Perez de Villagra

The New Mexico state office building named for Gaspar Perez de Villagra in Santa Fe at 408 Galisteo Street.

The architect John Gaw Meem designed the New Mexico territorial-style Villagra building in 1934. It’s one of the first buildings that became a part of the New Mexico State office complex. Funding for that building and many others came through the WPA program. Santa Fe, like the rest of the country, was greatly impacted by the Great Depression in 1929. The Dust Bowl era of the 1930s added to the misery. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) brought economic relief. The Villagra building is located at 408 Galisteo street. The building is a part of the state registrar of Historic Places. It serves as a reminder of the contributions of Gaspar Perez de Villagra and this country’s first written word.

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