Acequia Madre House™—”House of the Three Wise Women”

The house was built by Eva Scott Fényes, her daughter, Leonora S. M. Curtin, and granddaughter, Leonora F. Curtin, who later became Mrs. Yrjö Paloheimo.


In 1927, the noted historian, Indian activist, poet and journalist Charles Fletcher Lummis pronounced the new Santa Fe home of his friends, “The House of the Three Wise Women” demonstrating his respect for the three remarkable women of Acequia Madre House™.


The house was designed by the women after rejecting proposals by such notables as California architect Wallace Neff and artist-builder William Henderson. They found an architect in Albuquerque, Charles Rossiter, who listened to their thoughts and drew the plan. Contractor Charles Campbell was engaged and the cornerstone laid by visiting count, Lattanzio Firmian. Both Leonoras contributed design ideas and kept tabs on the expenses. Eva, an experienced house builder, required daily reports on its progress when she was in California and so participated in every element of its construction. The primary designer, she chose the furniture for the living room and many of the decorative objects still in place today. Adobe bricks were made on site. The house was completed in 1926.


Large public rooms and comfortable private rooms are filled with the original Spanish Colonial, Native American and Finnish furnishings, as well as items collected during the family’s travels. Pieces in the collection have been featured in academic publications, and museum exhibitions. When they upgrade the look of the home, they are no longer showpieces, but a part of life. Most important are the furniture, tin work, and textiles made during The Depression for The Native Market, a cooperative for local artisans, that was created and subsidized by Leonora Curtin Paloheimo. The house, which sits on a three-acre parcel of land, is an example of the Santa Fe territorial revival style. It is unique, in that it has retained its original appearance and estate setting. Over the years, internationally known artists, writers, and musicians have been family friends and guests.


In addition to the 5,400 square foot main house, there are several other structures on the property including an Archive building. On adjacent San Antonio Street, two homes which adjoin the property will be used as Scholars’ Residences.


In July, 2012, the house and property received the designation of “museum” from the Santa Fe Board of Adjustments in a Special Use Permit, enabling the Women’s International Study Center to conduct its programs onsite into the future.