Couse-Sharp Historic Site

Couse-SharpHistoricSite.jpg
Taos, NM
United States
Couse-Sharp Historic Site

Situated on a ridge overlooking Taos Valley, the Couse-Sharp Historic Site is the 2.3-acre adobe home and studio and terraced garden of E.I. Couse and two studio buildings of neighbor and colleague, J.H. Sharp. The painters Couse and Sharp were two of the six original founders of the Taos Society of Artists who created a burgeoning art community inspired by the intense light and local culture of northern New Mexico. Their homes and studios represent many styles of local architecture from the Spanish Colonial of the 1830s to the Pueblo Revival of the 1930s. After the Couses purchased the house in 1909, Virginia Couse began to create the 0.5-acre garden that connects the architecture with the surrounding landscape. The gardens evolved over time as Ben Lujan, E.I. Couse’s favorite model, helped Virginia to plant and tend the garden when he was not posing.

At the center of the garden is an extensive lawn with a mixed perennial border. Virginia creeper climbs along the entire porch and up its posts, linking the house to the surrounding garden. By 1920, dry-stacked stone walls created a series of terraces downslope from the lawn planted with a mixture of exotic perennials, native shrubs, and grasses that Virginia collected from mail order, plant exchange, and expeditions into the mountains. A stone platform and garden seat overlook the valley and the mountains beyond. A collection of native trees and shrubs frame the adobe houses from the road. A full restoration of the garden based on vintage photographs is ongoing. Today, the Couse-Sharp Historic Site is a public museum with exhibits on the life and art of Couse and Sharp. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.