Silver City, NM


Silver City dates from the discovery of silver here in 1870.  Unlike many of the other mining towns which boomed and died, this one survived—in part due to the requirement after 1880 of buildings being constructed of masonry.  The railroad arrived in 1883, leading to a building boom.  Most of the oldest buildings in the Historic Business District date from the 1880s.  After the silver industry crashed in 1893, the town reinvented itself as a resort for tuberculosis sufferers in the early 1900s.  Large-scale copper mining at the nearby Tyrone and Santa Rita mines began in 1910.

The H. B. Ailman House was built as one of a pair of Mansard/Italianate style homes in 1881.  The family moved on to California in the early 1890s after the Meredith and Ailman Bank failed.  The home now houses the Silver City Museum, which provides excellent background materials on the history of the town and local mines.

The Walking Tour of the Historic Business District (brochure available at the Silvery City Museum) includes 13 historic properties.  Architecturally, the buildings include examples of the Italianate, Hipped Box, Cottage, and Spanish Revival styles.  Several have cast iron details at the street level and pressed metal on the upper story.  The brochure notes that some of the buildings were built before the railroad line extended from Deming to Silver City, implying the cast iron and plate glass must have come by ox team.  The Silver City National Bank building was designed by Henry Trost of El Paso.  Included in the tour is Big Ditch Park, which runs for several blocks along the stream.  Floods in 1895 and the early 1900s transformed Main Street into an arroyo and, eventually, caused many of the early commercial buildings to collapse.

Bell Block, 208-214 W Broadway

Upper Story Details, Bell Block