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Hurd family property named to National Historic Register thanks to NMSU grad

A New Mexico State University graduate’s final project has succeeded on a national level. The property of artists Peter Hurd and his wife Henriette Wyeth-Hurd was listed at the national level of significance on the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 10.

Woman standing in a doorway under a bell
Brittany Porter, who recently graduated from NMSU with a master’s degree in anthropology, stands in front of the gate at Hurd House. (Courtesy photo)

The 40-acre property near Ruidoso was purchased in the 1930s and later expanded to more than 2,000 acres. The Hurd family home and studios were named to New Mexico’s State Register of Cultural Properties in October.

“The listing in the National Register recognizes the Hurds as important to American history, “ said Brittany Porter, anthropology graduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, who spent the last two years working on the nomination. “It also shows that the hard work I put into the nomination is recognized.”

Porter received her master’s degree from NMSU on Dec. 13.

After receiving encouragement from the National Park Service, Porter may pursue listing the property as a National Historic Landmark.

“This is a great accomplishment for a new graduate who is looking for her first job,” said Beth O’Leary, NMSU anthropology professor emerita who has continued as Porter’s adviser through the fall semester after her retirement. “Brittany made an excellent presentation and I’m proud to see that the property of these New Mexico artists is getting national attention.”

Peter Hurd is well known for painting the official White House portrait of President Lyndon Johnson while his wife Henriette Wyeth-Hurd, daughter of illustrator and artist N.C. Wyeth, painted portraits of women such as Pat Nixon and actress Helen Hayes. Both artists’ work also reflects their connection with New Mexico and the southwest.

Porter credits professors at NMSU with gaining the skills that will help her after graduation.

“Two NMSU professors were my biggest influences,” Porter said. “Beth O’Leary inspired me to pursue the Peter and Henriette Wyeth Hurd house and studios nomination. Her guidance helped me to finish the nomination and get the property listed in the state and national registers.

“Silvia Marinas-Feliner (NMSU’s museum conservation program director) has inspired me to want to work with objects in museums. They are both wonderful teachers. Because of them, I have the option of pursuing a career in historic preservation or in museums.”