THE KIT CARSON HOME – A MASONIC PROJECT
By Bro Jack K. Boyer PM, 1966
Of interest to Masons in New Mexico and elsewhere is the Kit Carson Home and Museum located in Taos, New Mexico, which is owned by Bent Lodge No. 42 of Taos and operated by the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation, Inc. The Kit Carson Home is now one of the most popular attractions in the old historic town of Taos and is gaining much renown throughout the United States.
Brother Christopher (Kit) Carson was initiated on 29 March 1854, passed on 17 June 1854, and raised on 26 December 1854, in Montezuma Lodge No. 109, A. F. & A. M., Santa Fe, Territory of New Mexico. By the beginning of 1859 there were at least ten Masons living in Taos and vicinity who had for some time been holding Masonic sessions mostly in the rear of Brother Ceran St. Vrain’s store on the Taos Plaza. A group of Brethren, Ceran St. Vrain, Kit Carson, Ferdinand Maxwell, Peter Joseph (De Teves) and John M. Francisco, applied for and received dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Missouri on 16 November 1860 to form Bent Lodge No. 204 at Taos. The new Lodge under dispensation was named in honor of Brother and Governor Charles Bent who had been massacred in Taos during the Taos Indian Rebellion of 1847. Brother Kit Carson demitted from Montezuma Lodge to become a charter member and the first Junior Warden of the new Bent Lodge No. 204. The Grand Lodge of Missouri issued the Charter of Bent Lodge on 1 June 1860 with the following officers:- Dr. A. S. Ferris as Worshipful Master, Ferdinand Maxwell as Senior Warden, Kit Carson as Junior Warden, Ceran St. Vrain as Treasurer, and Joseph Beuthner as Secretary. Kit Carson was elected as Senior Warden in 1861, but was never to serve in the East because of his absence from Taos while in the service of the United States Army during the Civil War period 1861 to 1867. By 1865, so few Masons were left in Taos to attend Lodge, it was decided by the remaining members to surrender the Charter to the Grand Lodge of Missouri until such time as there were sufficient members again living in Taos to open and carry on Lodge communications. Though the Charter was not officially recorded has having been surrendered to the Grand Lodge of Missouri until 14 May 1866, the minutes of Montezuma Lodge No. 109, Santa Fe, reveal that on 7 January 1865 Brothers Kit Carson, Ceran St. Vrain, Alfred Bent (son of the deceased Brother Charles Bent), and Joseph Beuthner were affiliated with this Lodge in Santa Fe.
The Kit Carson Home, now a famous landmark, was built in 1825 and was purchased by Kit Carson in 1843 as a wedding gift for his beautiful bride, Josefa Jaramillo, member of a very prominent Taos family. The building was to be their permanent home for the next twenty-five years, their lifetime together. Within its thick adobe walls, six and probably seven of their children were born and reared along with sever-al captive Indian children who had been freed by Kit from their captors, and with several members of the Bent and Jaramillo families. Within its thick adobe walls too, many famous men of that period were overnight guests and were royally entertained by the Carsons. It was a simple but comfortable Taos home.
The various vocations of Kit Carson during his married life w1th Josefa allowed him very little time to be with his family in this house, but still it was always home for him. His family was always there awaiting him on his return from the various scouting trips with John C. Fremont and other officers, and later from his duties as Indian Agent and as an Army Officer during the Civil War period. During his 25 years of marriage with Josefa, the longest period of time that Kit was with his family in this house was during the time he served as Ute Indian Agent from January, 1854, to June, 1861, when he had his Agency headquarters in Taos.
The first of three periods that the whole Carson family did not occupy the Taos house was during the years of 1851 to early 1854 when Kit again tried to ranch – this time on the Rayado south of Cimarron. Kit went to the Rayado in April, 1849, to start work on the ranch and to build a house there. He did not move the family from Taos until 1851 when he had completed the ranch house. Accepting the appointment as Ute Indian Agent on 6 January 1854, Kit moved the family back to Taos.
The second period of time that the family did not live in the Taos house was from May, 1866, to November, 1867, when Brevet Brigadier General Kit Carson was serving as Commanding Officer of Fort Garland, Colorado, the first time in his military career that he could have his family with him on an Army Post. There were other times however during the Civil War days when the family did visit Kit at various Army installations and may have stayed for a short time, but these were merely visits and not permanent moves.
Of course, the third and final move from Taos was early in 1868 when Kit, having resigned from the Army and being quite ill, moved the family to Boggsville, Colorado. After a period of illness due to an old injury caused by a fall with his horse, Brother Kit Carson followed his wife Josefa in death on 23 May 1868 at Fort Lyon, where Kit had gone seeking medical attention for his old injury. Their bodies were later brought back to Taos for reburial in the American Cemetery in May, 1869.
The house and property in Taos was sold on 7 September 1869 by Thomas O. Boggs, administrator of the Carson Estate, to Casimiro Andrada. A good description of the original house is still to be discovered as the early deeds just name it as the home of Kit Carson. The deed from Boggs to Andrada merely says, “A dwelling house, with stables and corrals, formerly the property of General Christopher Carson.” A deed, dated in November, 1889, describes the home then as a “house containing four rooms of twenty-two vigas.” This describes the house some 20 years after the Carsons had died, and what changes may have occurred 1n the interim are not known, as yet. The Property changed ownership six times before becoming Masonic property in 1910. A photograph taken in 1908 shows the Kit Carson Home to be in a very dilapidated condition – doors were off their hinges, window panes were broken, the porch roof was nearly gone, the roof on the building was in such poor condition that it had collapsed in one of the rooms, and the building was being used as a stable for burros.
After the burials of Kit and Josefa Carson in the American Cemetery in Taos, the cemetery was renamed the Kit Carson Cemetery in honor of this famous American. Records show that a headstone on Kit’s gravesite was erected by the Grand Army of the Republic in 1890, and very soon souvenir hunters began to chip off pieces of the stone. It became so damaged. that the Masons of Taos started a movement that was taken over by the Grand Lodge of New Mexico which bought and erected an iron fence around the two graves. At the same time an appropriate headstone was placed on Josefa’s grave. Grand Lodge Officers officiated at this ceremony held on 15 July 1908 which was attended by Masons from ten different States. A photograph of this group taken in front of the Kit Carson Home is on display in an exhibit entitled, ” KIT CARSON, FREEMASON,” in the Kit Carson Home and Museum.
After some 44 years without an active Masonic Lodge in Taos, Bent Lodge No. 42 was organized and received its Charter from the Grand Lodge of New Mexico on 20 October 1909. A search into the minutes of Bent Lodge No. 42 reveals that one of its very first items of business was the formulation of plans to purchase and restore the Kit Carson Home. There were to be many rough days for Bent Lodge before enough money was available to purchase the property. Permission was authorized by the Grand Lodge for Bent Lodge to circulate among other Masonic Lodges of this Grand Jurisdiction an appeal for funds to aid the purchase. But the help received from these Lodges plus all that the members of Bent Lodge had contributed still was not sufficient to buy the property. So the Grand Lodge of New Mexico then lent to Bent Lodge the balance of the money needed for the purchase with the proviso that the Property could never be disposed of and that one room was always to be used as a memorial to Brother Kit Carson.
After the Purchase of the property, money was still needed to restore the building to its original state. Various means were used to raise these needed funds. The Taos Masonic Ladies held a series of dinner parties to help the Lodge to raise the money. A menu of one of these delicious meals, now hanging in the Carson Museum, lists 25 items of food for the modest price of 35 cents! Members of Bent Lodge donating materials and labor finally completed the necessary repairs to the old home. The building was then rented as a private residence for many years. Brother Francis T. Cheetham who wrote a number of historical articles on Masonry, on Freemasons, and on persons, including Kit Carson, lived in the house for many years. It was occupied for a time by Mrs. Lupe Carson, wife of the deceased Kit Carson II, and her family. The various tenants of the Home did allow the few visitors to Taos at that time to visit the home of our famous Brother, which partially met the conditions of the original agreement with the Grand Lodge of New Mexico.
By the mid 1930’s, the business section of Taos began to expand up Kit Carson Street and the Old Home then became business property, and the few tourists were still able to see the interior of Kit’s old home. But as the number of visitors to Taos increased with the years, so did the demand and pressure of these tourists increase to have the Kit Carson Home opened to the public as a historic home rather than as a business shop. The time finally came when it was very difficult to keep a business tenant in the building because of the distractions to his business by the many questions and interruptions of the tourists. In the mid 1940’s, our late Brother Floyd Morrow who was then renting the Home for his leather craft shop began collecting historical articles and using two of the rooms as a museum. This filled a bit more of the Grand Lodge requirements. But as time passed, Brother Morrow found that trying to operate a small museum along with his regular business was growing more and more difficult and that it demanded more of his time than he could allow. The growing popularity of the Kit Carson Home now posed a serious problem to Bent Lodge No. 42.
In 1949, a group of Taos citizens and a Kansan who were all interested in Kit Carson organized the Kit Carson Memorial Fund, Inc., a non-profit organization. Its purposes were to help perpetuate the memory of Kit Carson and to aid in any manner the Kit Carson Home and the Kit Carson Cemetery. During the next few years as charter members dropped their membership in the Kit Carson Memorial Fund, Inc., their places were filled by Taos Masons; and by early 1952 all of its members were Masons of Bent Lodge No. 42.
Because of the ever increasing pressure of the tourists and the plight of Brother Morrow in trying to earn a living with his business in the Kit Carson Home, the incoming Worshipful Master of Bent Lodge in January. 1952, appointed a Lodge Museum Committee, instructed to study the situation at the Kit Carson Home and to report its recommendations to the Lodge. After serious study by this committee, in May, 1952, a joint meeting was held by the Board of Trustees of Bent Lodge, the Lodge Museum Committee, and the Board of Directors of the Kit Carson Memorial Fund. Inc., to seek a solution to this problem. Since all members of these three groups were also members of Bent Lodge No. 42, with several serving on all three Boards, it was not difficult to arrive at a harmonious conclusion. Their report made at the next communication of Bent Lodge recommended that the Lodge Museum Committee be consolidated with the Kit Carson Memorial Fund, Inc.; that the Kit Carson Home be leased to the Kit Carson Memorial Fund, Inc., for $1.00 per year: and that this group be authorized to maintain and restore the Kit Carson Home and to develop and operate it as a historic home and museum, a fitting memorial to Brother Kit Carson. This would finally fulfill the intent of the members of Bent Lodge when they purchased the property in 1910 and would meet all requirements of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico. The members of Bent Lodge approved these recommendations by unanimous vote, and Brother Floyd Morrow was appointed to serve as first curator of the Kit Carson Home. Then to release the remaining rooms of the Kit Carson Home for museum use, Bent Lodge had a large room measur1ng 20 feet by 30 feet built onto the building for Brother Morrow to house his leather craft shop. Now at last, the Kit Carson Home was actually all opened to the public without a tenant occupying any Part of the old home.
But it was soon noted by the members that the organizational and purpose structure of the Charter and By-Laws of the Kit Carson Memorial Fund, Inc., were not sufficient to meet all of its needs. So in 1953, the Kit Carson Memorial Fund, Inc., was reorganized and re-chartered as the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation, Inc., still a non-profit organization now composed entirely of members of Bent Lodge No. 42. Its purposes and scope of activities were greatly enlarged by this new reorganization. The Home now was to be operated entirely as a historic home and museum with no private business connected with it in any way. Since members of the Foundation also serve as the Lodge Museum Committee, reports are made to Bent Lodge concerning all of its activities. This reorganization was timely as Brother Morrow decided that he must move to another location if he was to continue his business and earn his livelihood. Receipts of the admissions to the Home were not sufficient to pay a full time employee. But all the effort and time by Brother Morrow was not to have been in vain, for he had started the museum and from this start it was to grow into a National Historic Landmark.
In January, 1954, Brother Jack K. Boyer, present Director-Curator of the Kit Carson Home and Museum and the Executive Secretary of the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation, Inc., volunteered his services as Curator of the Kit Carson Home. Under his direction, additional restoration was done in the interior of the building which included the concealment of electrical lines, rebuilding fireplaces, replastering and repainting interior walls, and in the patio rebuilding the well house and an outdoor oven. To operate the home, a receptionist was hired on a 30% commission of the admission fees to visit the home.
In 1955, the Curator then started to arrange-the three original rooms which faced Kit Carson Street and furnish them as a home as much like Carson’s home as research revealed, using those Carson items on hand and either borrowing or buying furniture of the Carson period. The entrance was moved from the front door on Kit Carson Street to a side door into the fourth room which faced into the Patio. To stimulate interest and to fulfill the requests of visitors about information concerning Kit Carson, the Foundation published two new short biographies – one entitled KIT CARSON by our deceased Brother Francis T. Cheetham and the other entitled THE REAL KIT CARSON by Marlon Estergreen. At the same time the Foundation republished with permission the booklet KIT CARSON by Edgar Hewett and KIT CARSON’S OWN STORY OF HIS LIFE as edited by Blanche C. Grant. Miss Grant’s sister, Mrs. Ethel Cary, had given the copyright and Publishing rights to the Foundation for this book. Money was borrowed to finance these publications, and in two years the loan was repaid just from the sale of these books. Since that time, the Hewett booklet has been reprinted three times and the Autobiography has been reprinted once and also published in a cloth or hardback edition.
The Foundation concluded arrangements with Bent Lodge in 1956 and acquired the use of the large room previously built for Brother Morrow. This room was then divided into two smaller rooms with one being used for museum purposes and the other as the office and entrance room to the Home. This addition also allowed the fourth room of the Home itself to be used for exhibition purposes. So in three short years, the Kit Carson Home had expanded from three rooms into the Kit Carson Home and Museum of six rooms. In the entrance room, additional items such as postcards and other historical booklets were offered for sale along with the publications of the Foundation.
It was now apparent that the Foundation had achieved more than it had originally planned. The volume of visitors each year increased in such numbers that in 1958 a new agreement was made by the Foundation with Bent Lodge to acquire the use of the old building along the north side of the Kit Carson property which in time has been proven to have once been a part of the Kit Carson Home. This building, was composed of three rooms in a very poor state of condition, though two rooms had been partially restored to use. Two additional rooms of this old building had collapsed into ruins and had disappeared with time. In the new agreement, using funds furnished by both the Lodge and the Foundation, the three rooms were restored and the other two missing rooms were rebuilt. By the Spring of 1959, the Foundation had completed the restoration and had moved into these five additional rooms. The Kit Carson Home and Museum was now comprised of the four original rooms of the Home, four additional museum rooms, the entrance and Museum Shop, the office and Library, and a storage room – eleven rooms in all. This expansion entailed new plans for exhibits within the various museum rooms. The fourth room of the Home which had suffered structural changes, was now designated as the Kit Carson Room in which displays were to be developed telling of the various phases or careers in the life of our illustrious Brother. These exhibits still to be developed are entitled as follows: – KIT CARSON. THE YOUTH; KIT CARSON, THE MOUNTAIN MAN; KIT CARSON THE RANCHER; KIT CARSON, THE SCOUT; KIT CARSON, THE INDIAN AGENT; KIT CARSON, THE SOLDIER; KIT CARSON AND HIS FAMILY; KIT CARSON, THE LAST DAYS; and of special interest to all Masons is KIT CARSON, FEEEMASON. This exhibit also tells of the Taos Masons and their struggle to establish Bent Lodge No. 204 under the Grand Lodge of Missouri. It is hoped that it will be possible sometime to borrow Kit’s Masonic Apron from the Grand Lodge of New Mexico and place it on display in this interesting exhibit for the enjoyment of the many thousands of Masonic visitors to the Home each year. The next room in the Museum was designated the AMERICAN ROOM, and it will tell of the American friends of the Carsons and includes exhibits of Photographs, guns, tools, saddles, plows, traps, and similar items. The SPANISH ROOM will tell about the Spanish friends of the Carson family and exhibits in this room will contain furniture, clothing, photographs, toys, furnishings, and like items. The INDIAN ROOM will contain our Archaeological Exhibits of the Southwest and particularly of the Taos area. This room is pertinent to our general theme within the Kit Carson Home, as Kit was involved with Indians all his life and served as Ute Indian Agent from 1853 until 1861. The last room of the Museum is the CHAPEL which is a replica of a chapel within a Penitente Morada and also includes other exhibits of religious articles such as was used during the lifetime of the Carsons. Mrs. Carson, being a Roman Catholic, probably had s similar items in her home. I have used the future tense in describing the various rooms and the exhibits therein as it will take years to complete these displays. Research must be continued and then the various articles needed for the exhibits must be located and then obtained. Because of limited funds and limited staff, it is necessary to make long-ranged plans in order to finally accomplish the general theme of the Kit Carson Home and Museum.
Much time has been spent in personal contacts with all members of the Kit Carson Family which has resulted in new confidence in the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation and has resulted in many loans and gifts of valuable articles belonging to Kit and his family. Likewise, of the acquisitions of the Foundation were $5,526.00, and during the next ten years gifts from the many donors had raised the valuation to $104,231.00 by the end of 1965.
This valuation does not include the value of any of the articles on loan
to the Foundation.
Prior to 1959, a few books had been donated by various persons to the Foundation and were generally fiction with some biographies and other reference books. But in 1959, it became apparent that if suitable research was to be done to develop the planned displays for the expansion in the museum, a good research library would be necessary. The local public library, while an excellent library, did not contain the type of books needed in our research. Our deceased Brother Paul B. Albright could be Properly called the Father of our Historical Reference Library. Brother Albright had an excellent library and from his collection of Southwest Books gave many volumes of the badly needed books, and with this start, other interested friends began bringing in many of the other needed books. Miss Helen L. Williams of Taos has for years donated from $500 to $750 each year in books or funds to buy the books we need. These acquisitions are supplemented by periodic purchases as funds become available from the profits of our book sales in the Museum Shop. The inventory of the Historical Reference Library in 1955 amounted to only $89.92, and at the end of 1965 this valuation had increased to $12,137.00. We now have about 1500 volumes, 400 booklets and pamphlets, 2200 historical quarterlies and magazines, 300 maps, about 500 newspapers. 250 miscellaneous articles, 100 documents, and at least 2500 photographs and negatives. Our Historical reference Library was originally planned just as a Staff Library, but it soon became known to the public. Now many persons doing research – special and professional writers, general writers, students from Grade School level to College, and the general public are using these facilities. These people are not only from Taos, but from every state and some Foreign countries. Because most of our books are valuable, out-of-print, and almost irreplaceable, the books are used only in the library and cannot be checked out for out side use. There’ are no fees nor charges for the use of the library.
Also in 1959, necessary amendments to the Charter and By-Laws were made so that in 1960 the Internal Revenue Service designated the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation, Inc., as a non-profit charitable and organization having tax-exempt status. This status allows the donors to the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation to claim Federal income tax deductions for their gifts within the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. This exempt status, no doubt, has had some influence with donors of gifts to the Foundation.
With the many activities now performed by the Foundation and its Staff, the Director-Curator decided in 1961 that a DIRECTOR’S BEPORT in booklet form should be compiled and distributed each year to the members of the Foundation and Bent Lodge, to the Grand Lodge Officers, to other Directors of Museums and Historical Societies, and to those persons who had donated to the Foundation that year. A mimeograph donated by Miss Helen G. Blumenschein of Taos is used by the Director in making these reports. The New Mexico Masonic Lodge of Research has been added to the list to receive these annual reports.
As the result of several meetings between Miss Helen G. Blumenschein and the Director-Curator, Miss Blumenschein, in 1962. generously gave·to the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation her home property on Ledoux Street in Taos. This property had been the home of her Parents, Ernest L. Blumenschein, a world famous artist and co-founder of the Taos Art Colony in 1898, and her mother, Mary Greene Blumenschein, a famous artist in her own right. The property was to be known as the Blumenschein Memorial with provisions in the agreement that no architectural changes were ever to be made to the building; that the property was always to be properly preserved and mainta1ned; that Miss Blumenschein would furnish the funds necessary to complete the alternation of the home into four rental apartments; that Miss Blumenschein would furnish funds needed to adequately repair the buildings; that when funds became available from the Blumenschein Trust, the home would then be opened to the public as a memorial to the Blumenscheins. At the death of Miss Blumenschein, the money earned by the Blumenschein Trust would be paid each year to the Foundat1on for the above purposes. The rentals of the four apartments, after the cost of maintenance and other expenses on the buildings, is now used to pay a part of the salaries of the three part-time assistants who were then employed, to work in the Kit Carson Home. These assistants were now needed to allow the Director-Curator to devote more time to administrative duties as well as his usual curatorial duties and the management of the Blumenschein Property. Prior to this generous gift, the Director-Curator had only a part-time assistant during the busy summer season. So this was a most important gift to the K1t Carson Memorial Foundation.
But now many good things were coming to the Foundation. As the result of a study by the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, an evaluation by the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites: Buildings and Monuments, and by the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, the Kit Carson Home, in 1963, was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. The acquisition of this status culminates over fifty years of effort by the members of Bent Lodge No. 42 to establish a permanent memorial to Brother Kit Carson.· In July, 1963. dedication ceremonies of the Kit Carson Home as a Registered National Historic Landmark were held at the famous old home, attended by 18 descendents of the Kit Carson family, National Park Service officials, Grand Lodge Secretary, members of Bent Lodge and the Foundation, and many visitors. A detailed account of these ceremonies was printed in the August, 1963, issue of the NEW MEXICO FREEMASON.
The second good thing happened 1n October, 1963, when a second national recognition was accorded the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation. At this time, the American Association for State and Local History conferred its Award of Merit. Each year this National Association of Historical Societies studies and evaluates the outstanding work that has been done in the fields of State and local history. With the assistance of State and Regional Committees. the Association searches out projects of superior achievement and of quality and distinction. It gives an Award of Merit to those persons, groups, or organizations, who have contributed significantly to the study of local history or who have launched an innovation for disseminating local history, or whose work has led to a better understanding of our national heritage at the local level. The citation received by the Foundation read: “The American Association for State and Local History – Citation for Award, 1963, to the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation. Inc., Taos, New Mexico. Award of Merit for the excellent work in the preservation and restoration of the original Kit Carson House. Voted at the Annual Meeting of the Association Raleigh, North Carolina, October 4, 1963.” A detailed report on this recognition was printed in the NEW MEXICO FREEMASON in January, 1964. These two recognitions have certainly added to the national prominence and stature of the Kit Carson Home.
The third honor to the Foundation came late in 1965 when word was received that the Blumenschein Home had been designated a Registered National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. The same procedures had taken place before conferring this status on the Blumenschein Home as had done on the Kit Carson Home by the various governmental agencies. Such recognition is not attained by friendship or by seeking, but only through the previously explained impartial survey. In accepting the status, the Foundation again agreed to maintain its present standard of maintenance, preservation, and use of the buildings. In May, 1966, dedication ceremonies were held in the Patio of the old Blumenschein Home. Since Mr. Blumenschein had also been a co-founder of the Taos Society of Artists, the families of the other members of the Society and other artists and writers who were 1n Taos from 1900 to 1930 were invited to a luncheon and to the ceremonies. Also attending the ceremonies were members of Bent Lodge and the Foundation, National Park Service Officials, and many other friends. Again Mr. Dan Beard, Director of the Southwest Region, National Park Service presented the Bronze Plaque designating the site as a Registered National Historic Landmark. Miss Blumenschein received the plaque from Mr. Beard and in turn presented to Worshipful Brother Jacob M. Bernal, Chairman of the K1t Carson Memorial Foundation. This Plaque has been attached to the patio wall of the Blunenschein property facing Ledoux Street. Since acquiring this designation, Miss Blumenschein has been giving the Foundation the furniture, furnishings, a number of painting, and many Personal items of the Blumenscheln family. All these items will be on exhibit when the Blumensshein Home is opened to the public in the future. Detailed plans of the floors and the walls are being drawn to show the Proper location of the various pieces of furniture, furnishings and other items in the home so that the interior will be just as it was when occupied by the Blumenschein family. As it was stated before, the opening of the home to the public will await funds from the Blumensche1n Trust.
The restoration, maintenance, operation and the expansion of the Kit Carson Home and Museum have been accomplished from funds received primarily of the admission fees to visit the historic home. These modest fees, kept low to encourage large families to tour the home, are only 30¢ for Persons 16 years or over, 15¢ for youths of 8 through 15 years of age, and 10¢ for youth groups and school tours. No fees are charged the residents of Taos County. Admission receipts in 1955 amounting to $3,193.00 have grown to $9,827.00 in 1965 and should continue to increase with the years. This increase is most necessary if the needs of our growing museum are to be fulfilled. As stated before, the rental money from the apartments in the Blumenschein Home is used to help pay the salaries of the three part-time assistants after deducting the costs of maintenance and operation of the buildings.
The Museum Shop is our third source of revenue – particularly for the expansion of our Historical Reference Library. In 1955, the first year of operation, the sales in the Museum Shop amounted to $1,581.00 and these sales have now grown to $5,523.00 in 1965. From a modest selection of five books, all biographies of Kit Carson, we now offer a selection of Over 300 volumes on Southwest history, Fur Trade and the contemporaries of Kit Carson, Western Military History and many on Archaeological subjects, with only three historical fiction titles.
During the years from 1954 until the present day, we have noted the growth of the Kit Carson Home into a nationally recogn1zed Historic Site. Records of 1954 show that some 11,156 persons visited the Home, and this has grown each year until 52,547 persons toured the Home in 1965. Projecting this growth for the next ten years, it is estimated that between 85,000 and 100,000 person will try to visit the Kit Carson Home in the year 1975. The words “Will try” are used because the present day volume of visitors tax the available space within the Kit Carson Home and Museum, and this estimated increase in number of visitors will certainly become a terrific problem for the Foundation in 1975.
Museums of all sizes have their problems, and our growth is beginning to cause some very perplexing problems- some, which should be solved in the very near future if they are to be solved at all. The two big problems, which in turn cause many other smaller problems, are the lack of money and the lack of space. The lack of money accounts for our small untrained and unstable staff. With over 52,500 visitors in 1965. the Kit Carson Home is no longer a small museum though it is in the matter of space or size. Because of the long hours that the Home must be kept open, through past experience, it was found necessary and best to hire three employees to work part-time on shifts – two assistants working each day while the third employee is off. But because of the lack of funds, the Foundation is not able to pay a decent hourly rate; hence there is a constant turnover in employees, though the hourly rate is increased as income increases. It is also necessary that these employees combine their duties serving as receptionists at the entrance desk, as sales clerks, -and as janitors. The increased flow of v1sitors demands more of their time as receptionists and at the same time this increase in visitors also increases the janitorial work. With the increased maintenance load of the Blumenschein Property added to that of the Kit Carson Property, a man is badly needed to work full time with this important work. The maintenance of old buildings and the grounds are perpetual and must be done promptly and correctly, but again funds are lacking for this important employee. The growth has also increased the administrative duties of the Director which in turn has cut down the time needed for curatorial work. Each year more records are necessary and must be kept – these include the usual bookkeeping records, accession records of the gifts and purchases for the museum, records of loans, library records, operation of the Museum Shop – all of this plus the heavy correspondence of the Foundation and the usual public relation duties. An Administrative Assistant is badly needed to free the Director of many of the above duties so that he can devote more time as Curator. Research and work on the exhibitions in late years have suffered because of this increase in administrative work. Also the increased work load in the Historical Reference Library, though not enough to require a full-time librarian, is much more than can be properly performed by the Director-Curator. Much of the library work could also be performed by the needed administrative assistant. So it is very apparent that our present staff of one full-time Director-Curator and the three Part-time assistants is not adequate to effectively carry out all the dut1es now being performed in the Kit Carson Home and Museum.
Likewise, the lack of space within the Museum is becoming a factor that must be faced and solved in some manner in the very near future. The Present traffic space within the Kit Carson Home and Museum is below all museum standards for the number of annual visitors. There is just not enough walking area, much less space to stand and v1ew the exhibits for the present traffic flow through the Home and Museum. Picture this in your own mind for the estimated visitors for the year 1975. Planned exhibits have been postponed because of the lack of exhibition area, and this in turn curtails the over-all theme of the Home and Museum. In addition, the many valuable articles now being acquired by the Foundation are being stored instead of being exhibited. All of the available storage space at the Kit Carson Home and at the Blumenschein Property is full and two large collections recently acquired are being stored in the Directors badly needed garage. Efforts to acquire the property to the North of the Carson Property have been unsuccessful, to date, and this is the only direction in which the Museum can expanded and acquire storage space. Even if the purchase of the property were possible, then the necessary funds for the purchase would have to be raised which raises another problem itself. So each problem and its solution poses another problem, but the Foundation and its Director would be remiss in their duties if attempts were not planned and made to meet these contingencies. So the lack of funds affects the lack of space, and in turn the lack of space affects the lack of funds.
But a ten-year program has been planned and is now in effect which should solve these many perplexing problems. So it may be reported that the plans and the future of the Kit Carson Home and Museum and the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation are stable and will perpetuate the memory of our famous Brother Kit Carson. The future is bright and clear for these two Masonic Projects – the Kit Carson Home and the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation, Inc., under the sponsorship of Bent Lodge No. 42, A. F. & A. M., of Taos, New Mexico.
Jack K. Boyer P. M.