The Sandoval County Historical Society (SCHS) was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1977 by Mollie Kintzinger, President: Alan Minge, Secretary and Justin Rinaldi, Treasurer. In 1980 Mollie turned the organization over to Martha Liebert who presided over it for five years, followed by Lowell Anderson and Ward Alan Minge.
During this ten year period of growth, the major project of the Society was the continuation of the Photo Collection which was begun in 1978 with a grant from New Mexico Humanities Council.
The Archive and Photo Collection were housed in the Bernalillo Library offices and displayed in the Town Hall in Bernalillo while Martha Liebert was Librarian. When she retired in 1989, these archives and photos were taken to the Edmond J. DeLavy house, which he had left to the Society to be their new home. Ed was a society member who died on September 4, 1989 leaving a great philanthropic gift of his home and two and one half acres of homestead land to the Society to be used for Art and History purposes, meeting and exhibits as well as other educational activities.
Ed was born in Maine in 1916 of Swiss and German ancestry. He decided he wanted to be an illustrator at an early age, much influenced by the work of N. C. Wyeth. He studied at Pratt Art Institute in New York State and became an illustrator for western stories for Street and Smith Publications.
World War II interrupted his art career and he served in North Africa and the European Theater for four and a half years as a surgical technician. After the war he picked up illustration work again studying in the New York Art Students League on the G I Bill.
DeLavy first visited New Mexico in 1947 driving his new Chevy. He was fascinated by all things western and came west again in 1959 when he met John Sinclair who was curator at the Coronado Monument. This meeting influenced Ed to acquire this property, next to the Monument, and near Bernalillo, under the Homesteading Act.
He lived in Old Town, Albuquerque for the next three years, supporting himself doing carpentry and portrait painting.
In the early sixties he began digging foundations for a home and studio on his land. The entire house was his plan and layout. He built the studio first, laid the floors, did some of the cabinet work and all of the doors and helped raise the walls. By December of 1961 the masonry block walls were up and the ceiling timbers in place. Oscar Lee Turner and Valencia Garcia helped with the construction.
Ed returned to Connecticut, lived there for a while, married and later divorced. By 1970 he was back in Bernalillo for good.
A good draftsman, Ed worked primarily in oils and pastels and was equally proficient with portraits, landscapes and animals. He illustrated the book: COWBOY RIDING COUNTRY and numerous articles in NEW MEXICO MAGAZINE for his friend and author, John Sinclair.
Ed belonged to: WESTERNERS INTERNATIONAL, PLACITAS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ARTS IN THE MOUNTAIN GROUP and THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
By 2000 the Society had outgrown its facility and began planning an addition to the DeLavy House that would seat 150 people for our programs. While the addition was in construction, meetings were held all over Sandoval County: Corrales, Pena Blanca, Sile, Cuba, Sandia Pueblo, the old Convent and social center in Bernalillo.
Much of the labor was donated to the construction of the new addition. The McCune Foundation, The Stockman Family Foundation, Sandoval County and the members all contributed generously and the project was soon paid for. A Southwest garden was created facing the parking lot and The Boy Scouts built a sidewalk to the house as well as fencing it and adding a gate where the road enters the property.
New heating and air conditioning and security systems were added as well as double paned windows and a new plaster job. Highway signage will be provided by the NMDOT paid for by the Sandoval County Lodgers Tax fund.
The membership continues to increase responding to the excellent monthly speakers and art exhibits. All programs are free and open to the public.
If you are interested in visiting DeLavy House, driving instructions can be found here.
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