Walk # 4 – Troche Moche walk around Wells Park is a 2.3-mile plus walk developed by Martha Heard with some help from Eliza Frank. Martha is one of the Albuquerque Jane’s Walk organizers. She is also on the Board of the Wells Park Neighborhood Association and the driving force behind the Wells Park Oral History project.
This walk begins at the NE corner of 12th and Mountain and winds through a combination of residential and industrial areas of the Wells Park neighborhood to the north and east. Along the way you’ll pass many historic residences, a steam locomotive engine, distinctive murals, and other surprises. Like any of our Jane’s Walks you can join this walk at any place along the way and make any adjustments as you see fit.
From 12th Street and Mountain Road, we will walk north on the east side of 12th toward Bellamah Avenue. Before New Mexico Tea Shop moved to the neighborhood there was a full service Texaco Station with an attached garage at the corner.
On the on west side of 12th Street is Navajo addition (the 1000 and 1100 block of 12th up to Rosemont). It is an Albuquerque jewel with houses of similar size, but different styles, built in 1920s for sawmill workers.
Also on the west side of 12th Street at Rosemont is a row of modern attached houses. The corner one has a Frank Lloyd Wright window. The owner also tends a lovely garden next to the street.
Continuing to look across 12th Street before reaching Summer you’ll see some interesting sculptures — one metal, near a boat, and another ceramic along a coyote fence.
Again on the west side of 12th Street, north of Summer, there is a beautiful blue gate with yellow triangles. At 1205 there is an interesting adobe house with pitched tin roof dating from 1904. The house next door at 1207 is from 1901. They, too, were built for the sawmill workers. The houses at 1209, 1211, and 1213 have attractive fences, one blue wooden, another adobe, and the other a metal sunburst.
Back in Wells Park (on the east side of 12th) at Rosemont and 12th, there is a modern restored house with an interesting addition, a new modern house next door, and two older renovated homes.
Continuing north we will cross Arias. Arias is only one block long from 11th to 12th. There is another block of Arias in the Sawmill area to the west that does not connect to 12th. At 1224 12th Street there is a very attractive coyote fence in front of an adobe house.
We’ll soon reach the corner of 12th Street and Bellamah. Prior to the houses in the area, there were apple orchards from the late 19th century into the twenties on the land stretching to the south which belonged to the Jesuit priests in Old Town.
As we stand on the corner of Bellamah and 12th, we are next to the Durán house. Tomás Durán built this house in 1900 for his beautiful red haired bride he met on the Old Town Plaza.
He owned the sawmill store, La Tienda de la Máquina de Rajar, which was also at the corner. Part of it is still standing and is the studio of the artist Leo Romero who married Tomas’ granddaughter.
The American Lumber Company, 1892, the largest sawmill in the Southwest at the time, spread out to the west and to the east. The workers arrived to the sawmill on the electric trolley line (1903-1928) which stopped at the sawmill gate by the store. 12th street ended here.
We will be turning right on to Bellamah Avenue. It was named for an Albuquerque developer and was named Sawmill Road before 1952. It was unpaved as were most, if not all, of the streets in what became Wells Park. Next to the Durán property, one can spot a small adobe structure which at one time was a bakery. Adjacent to it is a rubber-wheel trolley car that Jesse Herron found in Estancia. It was last used on Albuquerque streets in the 1990s.
At 1100 Bellamah was the former Charley’s Grocery. Kinley Street used to run past the south side of the store on its way to 12th Street. (Kinley Street now only goes as far as 11th Street.) A brothel used to be behind the grocery store. This property is now part of The Painted Lady Bed and Brew owned by Jesse Herron.
On the north side of Bellamah is a large mural depicting Albuquerque – Una Vida Buena y Sana which was installed in 1993. Next to it is an Aztec sun and the word RESOLANA – a place to sit in the sun with your buddies and discuss la vida buena y sana or other politics today. This mural project was directed by Leo Romero who lives across the street in the Durán house. Hopefully, this walk will contribute to a good and healthy life as you enter into the industrial and commercial area of Wells Park which was formerly home to the Duke City Lumber Company.
The contemporary mural adjoining is an abstract design by Reyes Padilla.
As we continue down Bellamah, the industrial/commercial area of Wells Park is to the north.
Mother Trail packages and distributes alcoholic beverages. A sign on its wall says it is at 1011 Sawmill. Graphic Dimension on the right hand side of the street bears the address 1010 Sawmill Road. At one time they designed t-shirts with the design from Una vida buena y sana mural.
On the left hand side is a large business Musket Albuquerque DEF Terminal with the address 1615 8th St. NW. Now where are you?
Continuing down Bellamah, at 815 is Keslow Camera, a motion picture film and digital camera rental house. We’ll walk along it as we turn left onto 8th street.
Reliance Steel is at 1801 8th.
Continue North to the railroad tracks where the 1944 Santa Fe Railway 2926 steam engine continues to be restored. The stream engine is stored in the newer metal building on the north side of tracks. The engine is dragged outside on Wednesday and Saturday mornings if you would like to see it.
Continue one block north just past Haines to large Roadrunner mural on the right with the letters SAWMILL by NB Artistry (Noe Barnett).
Return to Haines and walk east past the Walker Print Studio at 719 with the attractive blue and purple wall. Continue east crossing 7th to the second half of the Sawmill mural with DISTRICT in large letters with a Coyote motif. We are still in Wells Park, where part of the sawmill existed. (The Sawmill District is technically west of 12th Street.)
From the early part of the 20th century until early 40s there was a large dairy farm here owned by Mr. Bezemek. The namesake Bezemek Avenue is one street to the north. One of his sons became enamored of one of the With (pronounced Wit) daughters who lived in the large house between 8th and Forrester)- an urban rural match which pretty much describes this area of town. Bezemek later sold his dairy to Creamland which is still in the area.
Looking North, one can see Interstate Highway 40, built in the 60s, which cut through these northwest neighborhoods. Close to the highway, for those who want some refreshment, Bow and Arrow Brewery is at 608 McKnight (two streets to the north).
To continue our walk, the large square in front of the DISTRICT mural is the Haines Commercial Plaza, with a variety of enterprises including Quelab (A Place to Make Things). It is a hacker/maker space with all the tools necessary to develop a product.
Our walk will continue south on 7th. As we cross the railroad tracks, one can see the volcanoes on the west and the Sandia Mountains on the east. Just south of the tracks at 1727 7th Street is the Popcorn Cannery. It is a charming little store with all kinds of popcorn and Bufett’s chocolate. No way one can go wrong here.
For a detour for food and beverage go to Kosmos Restaurant at 1715 5th Street NW. Turn East on Aspen to 5th and then north on 5th. The former warehouse was home to art galleries, and is now in the process of another transformation.
As we continue south on 7th Street, we will pass some residences on our way back to Bellamah. On the Southwest corner of 7th and Bellamah is the old Vivianis Grocery store now owned by a local artist. There are two distinctive murals here.
As we turn east along Bellamah the sidewalks are smooth and wide. The landscaping along the parkway from 8th to 6th Street was sponsored by the Wells Park Neighborhood Association and the City.
Between Los Tomases (formerly Virginia Ave.) and 6th Street there is an alley with a turquoise fence. Turn north into the alley and you will find car murals on the concrete block wall. The cars are from the 50s and 60s which you will also find in the neighborhood.
Return to Bellamah and continue East. The vacant lot on the NW corner of Bellamah and 6th was a neighborhood grocery store. The building was demolished in 2019.
Across the street at the SW corner of Bellamah and 6th is an intriguing fence built in the summer of 2017 by Butch Sterpka, Michael Lopez, and Ginnie Sterpka. Notice among the stones volcanic rock and petrified wood. It is the A Troche Y Moche wall and the name of this walk that I borrowed from these three geniuses.
Continue South on 6th street. On the left was the home of a large nursey. Today it seems to be owned by Goodfellas. You could call and ask about flowers, but you would have much better luck to continue to Blooms at Balloons and the corner of 6th and Kinley. This is a restored Nazarene Church, Art Deco style, built in 1939.
Continue south on 6th one block to Summer and turn right. Before turning, you might notice the empty city block at the SE corner of 6th and Summer. It’s the City owned Walker Property that is in the process of becoming a City park.
As we go west on Summer, notice the house built next to sidewalk on the south side of Summer. When you reach the alley next to the vacant lot, make a left-hand turn to see three murals a short distance south of Summer. You’ll see a Mimbres Bat, a group of cactus in bloom, and a Mimbres wolf.
Return to Summer. This part of the neighborhood at one time was very cohesive with family and friends dating back decades. This is true of many parts of Wells Park where family and friends lived in close proximity.
On the north side Summer between 7th and 8th on right was a Chinese owned grocery store according to Thomas Gray who who lived on the Southeast corner of 7th and Summer.
Summer ends at 8th Street. When you reach 8th Street, turn right and then turn left at Kinley (the next street north). When you reach Forrester (the next street west) turn right again. Kinley will resume at the end of Forrester. Turn left on Kinley and follow it as it winds its way to 11th Street. This part of Kinley has a very rural feeling with both new and renovated houses.
At 11th street turn left and continue south to Mountain Road and Golden Crown Panaderia. The house at 1013 11th St. NW is a typical 1920s bungalow.
During this walk through the northern and western residential part of Wells Park, one can notice how each house and property is different. The residents often express their individuality. Many were built in the 40s and 50s, some date back to the 20s with a very few before that. Some of the historical houses noted by the planning department in the 90s have been torn down. Some have been replaced by modern structures; some conform to the character of the neighborhood. The bottom line is that you’ll find something interesting on any street you walk in the Wells Park neighborhood.