SAN CRISTOBAL, N.M. – A northern New Mexico ranch where novelist D.H. Lawrence once sought spiritual renewal is working to reshape itself after being closed for six years and facing a number of needed renovations.
Taos groups like the D.H. Lawrence Ranch Alliance, Friends of D.H. Lawrence and elements within University of New Mexico are helping to raise funds for the ranch, the Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/Q1rA5g ).
Lawrence was a visionary who extolled natural sensuality and thought modern life was robbing people of the ability to experience the quality of life. His most famous novel is "Lady Chatterly's Lover," a novel first published in 1928 about the sexual and emotional relationship between a rich woman and a working-class man.
Recently, the university launched an effort called the D.H. Lawrence Ranch Initiatives to figure out how best to renovate and revitalize the historic site for artistic, cultural and educational endeavors. The task is led by English professor Sharon Oard Warner and Gary Smith, associate director of the university's Physical Plant Department. The ranch is not supported by the usual university funding sources, and must rely on grants and donations from community groups and individuals.
"Our watchword is revitalization of the D.H. Lawrence Ranch and making it part of the community," Alliance President Stanley Riveles said. "It's a big tourist attraction."
The 160-acre ranch in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was closed to visitors from 2008 until 2014 but reopened last summer. The property has languished because of a lack of money for upkeep, an unreliable water supply and its isolated location.
According to preservation advocates, Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, made summer visits in 1924 and 1925. Even after Lawrence's 1930 death, the ranch still hosted many famous visitors like author Willa Cather and artist Georgia O'Keeffe.
The ranch — including a cow shed built by Lawrence himself — is on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. Frieda, who died in 1956, bequeathed it to the university with the stipulation it be used for educational and cultural purposes, and that the memorial be open to the public.
Julianne Newmark, an associate professor of English at New Mexico Tech in Socorro and the archivist for the D.H. Lawrence of North America, has written articles on Lawrence. Every three years, the society meets in Santa Fe.
"People come from all over the world and see the shrine that Frieda built for his ashes," Newmark said. "He (Lawrence) would later say there was something about New Mexico that you can never really shake."
Currently, English professors take students who are studying Lawrence and other modernists to the ranch. The university expects to find out next month if it will receive a grant from the New Mexico Office of the State Historian and, if so, architecture students would take part in the rehabilitation and restoration of buildings, Warner said.