Guest Post: The Magoffin Home of El Paso

Our dear friend Lisa Amaya invited us to write a guest post in her wonderful blog Life of an El Paso Woman. We asked Lisa what would be a good topic. Of course she gave us some ideas — anything related to El Paso, review, parenting or anything else you prefer. 🙂 We thought — ha, how hard can it be to write as a guest on an almost open-ended topic? We thought hard about the topic! Coming to a decision became impossible. We had to seek help from Dear Son. Dear Son rejected most of the pictures we showed him by just saying a big nooooo. After showing him a significant number of pictures, he seemed satisfied with the pictures we took at the Magoffin Home State Historic Site here in El Paso. He selected these pictures not because we demonstrated our utmost photography skills in shooting them but because we visited the Magoffin Home recently. Yes, 4-year-olds like stories. The latest they are, the better. Magoffin Home here we come … I mean we found our topic.

Settle in El Paso team

Who was Mr. Magoffin? 

Magoffin Home State is a historic site that reflects the multicultural era of the 19th century. Joseph Magoffin, the first owner of the Magoffin Home was elected mayor of El Paso four times in 1881, 1883, 1898 and again in 1899. There were many reasons why he was so popular, one of which was simply his devotion to help the town. Magoffin personally worked day and night with his crews to keep water out of the town during a major flood. He also took steps to rebuild the town after a major calamity. He worked with the federal government to change the course of the Rio Grande river a bit to protect El Paso’s lower lands. There are many great stories about Joseph Magoffin. For curious minds, Texas Historical Commission provides great pictures and describes the history of the Magoffins.

A visit to the Magoffin Home

First, we went to the visitors center (1117 Magoffin Ave., El Paso, Texas). The visitors center has some pictures and tokens of old times. There is also a video documentary, which visitors can start and watch anytime. There are guided tours to the site that begin every hour. All tours start from the visitors center.

Entrance of Magoffin Home.
Entrance of the Magoffin Home
We watched the video, which gave us a glimpse of the history of Magoffin Home. Promptly on the hour, our guide was ready to give us the tour. The good thing about winter is — tourism is not rushed. 🙂 There were only three visitors — Dear Son, Dear Mom and Dear Dad to enjoy the tour on that hour. The Magoffin Home is across from the visitors center. Our guide showed us the way while he was giving us information about the Magoffin family. The house looked gorgeous from the front. It was built in 1875. The house has a local adobe style, a building made of earth and organic materials. Although the building went through a few phases of renovations and restorations overtime, the original structure along with many furniture pieces remained intact. The site was overseen by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from 1976. Texas Historical Commission has been overseeing this site since 2008.

We entered the house and enjoyed the ride on a time machine, of course figuratively speaking. There were pictures of the Magoffins around. Our guide described the history of all the Magoffins with great enthusiasm. There were one or two pictures of unidentified people. Historians are still working on discovering the names of these people.

Magoffin Home was a symbol of modern technology of its time. The house had a plumbing system, which was rare at that time. It even had a telephone. The number of that telephone was 10. Magoffin Home probably had the 10th telephone in El Paso.

The piano at Magoffin Home was built in 1881.
The piano at the Magoffin Home was built in 1881.
There are big dining halls, living rooms, bedrooms, a children’s playroom, an old office room and old bathrooms in this house. The wallpaper isn’t original; it wouldn’t survive this long. The curators restored the wallpaper with modern restoration materials. The walls had the same look and feel as the originals. We could see the original walls in some of the pictures. Most of the furniture pieces are original. There is a large piano, which is still in pristine condition. Our guide told us that piano is maintained regularly.
A bed and a crib. We were told early beds were shorter because people slept sitting up.
The Magoffin Home courtyard has a lovely statue named Angelot. Our guide informed us that it was reproduced in 2010. Parts of the original statue were used for reproduction. The new Angelot is more structurally sound than the original statue but looks exactly like the original one. Our guide surprised us when he said that this is the courtyard where he administered his first wedding as a minister. It was exciting to learn that a minister was giving us the tour.
The City Hall time capsule of 1899 is placed in the courtyard. The cemented rock is marked with the text JOSEPH MACOFFIN MAYOR: CITY HALL: BUILT 1899. The contents of the time capsule are displayed in other museums of El Paso.

The tour was about to end. Before we left the site, we enjoyed the outside views where there were shrubs and trees. Our guide informed us that the grounds of the Magoffin Home and the visitors center can be rented for receptions, banquets and other events.

We went back to the visitors center and said bye to our guide. We purchased a few books from the center and picked up brochures with additional information about other historical sites in El Paso. Our time travel ended, figuratively speaking with lovely pictures of the past in our minds.

Settle in El Paso team



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