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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Casa Navarro to Have a White Christmas

by Sarah Tober, senior marketing specialist for the Historic Sites

Thanks to the efforts of José (the site manager of Casa Navarro), staff and a few volunteers, Casa Navarro State Historic Site will be gleaming white again in time for Christmas! José is completing the annual whitewashing of all the main buildings and some of the Austin staff headed down to San Antonio to lend a hand. The team included Glenn, Ellen, Hal and I. We rolled up our sleeves and dared to get dirty as we methodically applied the whitewash to the exterior walls and eagerly learned about making the wash.

To make the whitewash, José starts with a lime mix in five one-gallon buckets mixed with water. In another mix he utilizes the diced cactus he has harvested from the big cactus plant on the grounds. He lets the cactus soak in water for a few days to release its gooey juices, which provide an adhesive base for the whitewash. Once the two compounds are mixed together, it’s ready to apply to the walls. Long precise strokes are necessary for even distribution of the wash, an art Ellen easily mastered.

We also had the opportunity to check out the newly recovered 16-foot-deep cistern on the property. The cistern was once used for storing captured rainwater from the roofs and is being restored again for the same use. We were able to climb down and observe the unique space inside the cistern two and three staff members at a time. I captured some pictures of the staff emerging from the cistern, like this one of Hal. Look for more on the restoration and use of the cistern to come!

**Casa Navarro is located in downtown San Antonio at the corner of S. Laredo and W. Nueva streets in the Texas Independence Trail and Hill Country Trail Regions.

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