By: Hope Alegre & Zak Hansen
Photos By: Art Moreno, Jr.
Styled By: Ladonna Apodaca
Some things are meant to stand the test of time. More than 130 years after it was first built, the Warren House, as it’s known today, stands as a testament to the spirit of the old Southwest and the remarkable woman who called it home.
Elizabeth Warren, nee von Wachenhusen, was born to Prussian immigrants in 1854 in Brooklyn. In her 20s she married Mr. Orange Scott Warren, and the couple traveled between coasts and lived in various parts of the U.S before settling in Silver City, New Mexico in 1882.
On July 21, 1895, a wall of floodwaters ripped through the bonanza mining town of Silver City, New Mexico, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction and leveling most of the town’s home and businesses.
Mr. Warren established the first insurance office in Silver City, which the couple operated from their home—a two-story, Italianate-style red brick house, that survived the devasting flood in 1895. When Mr. Warren died in 1888, three years after the couple found their home located on what was originally Main Street, Elizabeth took over the business, and expanded services to include fire, life, and plate-glass insurance. Additionally, she was the first female notary public in New Mexico Territory and the first New Mexico Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star.
The Warren House was the only edifice left standing on what used to be Main Street.
Another major flood in 1902 washed away the original Main Street, carving in its place the “Big Ditch,” 55 feet below street level and leveling the remaining buildings along the street—except for one. The Warren House was the only edifice left standing on what used to be Main Street.
As an astute businesswoman, the aftermath of these floods led Elizabeth to her next venture in the field of commercial construction. The first concrete sidewalk laid in Silver City was at her front door, and the rest of the town soon sought her expertise. Many of the stone buildings and concrete work still standing are a testament to her skill. Until her death, in January 1945 it was this structure that she called home.
With the Warrens as the original owners, the Warren House has only had two succeeding owners. The Porters, and current owner Kimber Davies. As a previous businesswoman herself, she took on the project of restoring and decorating this handsome structure, keeping in mind the original design and integrity of the house. The Warren House boasts five bedrooms and two baths on nearly 3,000 square feet just steps from downtown in Silver City.
With no prior knowledge in construction, Kimber gutted out the house herself and learned the skills necessary from watching other professionals and a frame maker on how to use a miter saw. Having built up confidence, Kimber turned to YouTube in figuring out some of the old wood craftsmanship. The project became all about bringing the house back to its original form, and any material that was usable during the gutting process was put back into it.
All exposed brick on the interior and exterior is original to the home, and upon entering the white wood doors with the glass inserts you’re met with a dining area that transports you back to simpler times—with bold black trim and wainscoting. A door in the dining room leads you to a hallway with an open kitchen setup that allows for a lot of natural light. The large island that sits in the middle and the wainscoting around the kitchen was built with wood that was sourced from other areas in the home. Down the large hallway are the original stunningly crafted stairs that were restored with skirt boards. The second story has three bedrooms, an office space and some wood flooring also original to the home.
You’ll also find a beautiful backyard accented with 100-year-old brick sourced from Dell City, Texas, and dotted with flowers planted by the two previous owners of the home that date back decades. 130 years of history was buried in the backyard from the floods, which now features a second-level sitting deck, greenhouse, pergola and chic studio, perfect for work and entertaining guests.