D.H. Lawrence

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An Outline of the History of the D. H. Lawrence Ranch
compiled by Katherine Toy Miller


The 160-acre ranch is located twenty miles north of Taos, New Mexico, off Highway 522 near San Cristobal at 8,600 feet.  An ancient Kiowa Indian trail, still used to travel from Taos Pueblo to the red clay pits in Questa by the Taos Pueblo natives, crosses vertically through the property.   

October 1883--First homesteaded under the Homestead Act of 1862 by John and Louise Craig.  Around 1891 John built the cabin where the Lawrences later stayed known as “The Homesteader’s Cabin.”

1893--The Craigs sold the property to William and Mary McClure who raised five hundred white Angora goats.

May 1920--Mabel Dodge Sterne (later Luhan), a wealthy Bohemian patroness (1879-1962) who moved to Taos from New York in 1918, purchased the ranch for $1,200 for her son, John Evans, as a hunting retreat.  He called it “The Flying Heart.”  

November 5,1921--The Lawrences were living in Taormina, Sicily, when David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) received a letter from Mabel inviting him and his wife, Frieda Lawrence née von Richthofen (1879-1956), to stay with her in Taos.

September 11, 1922--Lawrence and Frieda arrived in Taos to stay with Mabel.

October 25, 1922--The Lawrences, unhappy being dependent on Mabel, discovered they might occupy John’s ranch.  They visited several times and stayed in one cabin with two new acquaintances, recent Danish arrivals to Taos, Knud Merrild and Kai Götzsche.  Mabel refused to let the Danes have a cabin to stay with the Lawrences.

December 1, 1922--The Lawrences rented a cabin for themselves and one for the Danes from the Hawks on the Del Monte Ranch two miles below John’s ranch.  

March 19, 1923 The Lawrences departed to Mexico and Europe.

March 22, 1924--The Lawrences, along with Lady Dorothy Brett, a painter, daughter of Viscount Esher and part of the Bloomsbury set, arrived, staying temporarily with Mabel.  Wanting the Lawrences to remain in the area, Mabel bought back the ranch from John for a buffalo coat and a small sum of money and offered the Lawrences the ranch.  Lawrence allowed Frieda to accept it.

April 4, 1924--Lawrence wrote that Mabel had legally made the ranch over to Frieda.  Frieda gave Mabel Lawrence’s handwritten copy of Sons and Lovers.  Mabel was offended by the spirit of the exchange and two years later gave the manuscript to her therapist in New York, A. A. Brill, for helping a friend.

May 5, 1924--The Lawrences occupied the small three-room cabin, The Homesteader Cabin, and Brett occupied a tiny one-room cabin, Brett’s Cabin.  There was also a two-room guest cabin.  They worked all summer making repairs and improvements to the property.  Lawrence first called it “Lobo Ranch” because it is on Lobo Mountain (“Lobo” is Spanish for “wolf”) then “Kiowa Ranch” for the Kiowa Indian trail. 

October 19, 1924--The Lawrences and Brett departed for Mexico.

January 1925--Brett returned to the Hawk ranch.  She remained for the rest of her life in Taos where she died in 1977 at age 94.

March 29, 1925--The Lawrences returned to Kiowa Ranch where Lawrence recovered from a near-fatal combination of tuberculosis, malaria, and typhoid.                   

September 11, 1925--The Lawrences left the ranch and went to England and Europe.  Due to his poor health, Lawrence never returned.  Brett remained behind and helped manage the ranch which she attempted to buy.

Spring 1929--The Lawrences considered selling the ranch but decided not to.

Summer 1929--Georgia O’Keeffe, while staying with Mabel, stayed at the ranch for several weeks and painted the Lawrence tree.  She never met Lawrence but later visited Frieda at the ranch.

March 2, 1930--Lawrence died from tuberculosis in Vence, France, where he was buried.  Frieda wanted him eventually to be buried at the ranch.

June-November 16, 1931--Frieda and her married Italian lover, Captain Angelo Ravagli, lived at the ranch.  They returned to Europe while Frieda settled Lawrence’s contested estate.  The will he wrote was lost.  

May 1933--Frieda and Ravagli returned to the ranch where they began building a new home on May 30 on the site of the two-room guest cabin which was torn down.

Summer 1934--Lawrence’s grave was reported to be in a decrepit state.  Plans were made to have his body exhumed and cremated.  Ravagli built the memorial chapel.  

March-April 1935--Ravagli went to Vence to make the arrangements for Lawrence’s ashes to be brought back.  Between Marseille and Villefranche Ravagli dumped the ashes to save complications with customs.  He told this story after Frieda’s death.  In New York he put ashes in the vase Frieda had ordered for them.  The ashes were left behind at Lamy station and then in Taos at the home of Tinka Fechin before being brought to the ranch.    

September 15, 1935--A memorial ceremony was held for Lawrence at the ranch.  Frieda dumped the ashes into the cement used to make the memorial’s altar so they would not be stolen by Brett or Mabel who wanted to scatter them.  Brett had painted one window.  Trinidad Archuleta painted the Homesteader’s Cabin buffalo in 1935.

Summer 1937--Aldous and Maria Huxley and Gerald Heard stayed at the ranch with Frieda.  Georgia O’Keeffe met them, probably at Ghost Ranch.

Summer 1939 Poet W. H. Auden stayed with Frieda at the ranch.

Fall 1939--Playwright Tennessee Williams visited Taos where he met Brett and Frieda and stayed briefly at the ranch.  He returned in 1946.

October 31, 1950--After Ravagli obtained a divorce valid in America not Italy, he and Frieda wed to avoid immigration problems.

November 19, 1955--The University of New Mexico accepted the ranch as a gift from Frieda for educational, cultural, and recreational purposes.  Renamed “The D. H. Lawrence Ranch,” the memorial is open year-round to the public at no charge.

August 11, 1956--Frieda died at her winter home in El Prado, New Mexico, just north of Taos.  She was buried outside of the Lawrence memorial.

1959--Ravagli returned to his family in Italy.

January 2004--The National Register of Historic Places entered the ranch into the registry.  The ranch is also on the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties,

A few recommended resources:

Books:
D. H. Lawrence in New Mexico by Art Bachrach
Lorenzo in Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan
A Genius for Living: The Life of Frieda Lawrence
by Janet Byrne




 
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Friends of D. H. Lawrence
PO Box 1177
Taos, NM 87571




 
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