Residents hope to preserve house
September 1, 2021
Dozens of concerned residents have joined a Facebook group to brainstorm ways to secure and preserve one of Tucumcari's oldest houses that has sat vacant for two years.
The group, called Save Hospitality House, wants to preserve the stone-sided house at 307 E. High St. that also is known as Gaudin House or Thaxton House, the latter who was a physician. Newspaper archives and other records indicate the structure dates to 1907.
Don Reilman, a Tucumcari native who returned to his hometown last year, created the Save Hospitality House group on Facebook on Aug. 17 and drew more than 100 members in less than a week.
Reilman said in a phone interview last week he decided to do something after seeing the home's front door standing open during Rattler Reunion week last month. The house has been vacant for more than two years since the death of previous owner Fern George.
Recalling suspicious fires in recent years that have destroyed other historic homes in town and the bathhouse at the long-defunct swimming pool Five Mile Park, Reilman said, "I don't want that to happen to this building."
"I don't know of too many buildings in Tucumcari that are over 100 years old," he said. "It's too pretty of a house to let crumble or burn to get burned down. That's what's going to happen to it if someone doesn't step up and save it. I don't want that to happen to this building. I don't want it to go away."
Reilman said he made arrangements with the Tucumcari Police Department to have the doors locked at the home.
Another concern is the northeast side of the house, where a portion of an exterior wall has collapsed.
"If that's not fixed soon, that corner's going to get weaker and weaker, and the whole building's going to have to come down," Reilman said. "I give it six months, and that would be a real shame for the city."
Quay County Assessor Janie Hoffman said George still is listed as the owner of the property, and its property tax payments are up-to-date.
According to a piece of paper taped to one of the home's windows, Guardian Asset Management in Levittown, Pennsylvania, is managing the property on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Reilman said he heard a previous owner took out a reverse mortgage on the property, hence HUD's apparent ownership of the house.
Reilman said he sent a letter via registered mail to the address listed on the notice but has received no response. He also said no one is answering the phone on the listed number.
An email the Quay County Sun sent last week to Guardian Asset Management was not answered.
Reilman is hoping Guardian or HUD shores up the structure or lists the property for sale so a new owner can preserve it. He's said it would be ideal as a bed-and-breakfast.
Laura Love, another Tucumcari native and history buff who lives in Albuquerque and is one of the Save Hospitality House's administrators, said in a phone interview Thursday she talked by phone to an official at HUD last week.
The official told Love the home will be relisted for sale once another asset manager is assigned to the property. "There was no indication of when" the house will be up for sale again, Love said.
For now, the property remains in limbo.
According to a 2012 article in the Quay County Sun, the Hospitality House contained a studio in the back where residents gathered to play bluegrass music. George and her sister, Betty Bason, cared for the home and hosted dinner theaters there.
"We think it was the first house in the area," Bason said, "when the town moved from Liberty. We think they built it in 1900 and we know they used rock from (Tucumcari) Mountain. The house was complete by 1907 because there's a picture of it in the museum."
Love's research indicates the Albert Daniel Gaudin family built the house in 1907 and lived there until at least 1921. Al worked for the railroad as an engineer. The family later moved to California, and Al died in 1940 when he was hit by a car while walking across a highway in Los Angeles.
Local artists Doug and Sharon Quarles also did a lot of work on the home when they moved into it in 2008 after a huge fire in the Sands-Dorsey Building destroyed their studio. They operated it as a bed-and-breakfast for a while.