Built sometime in the 1880s or 1890s, La Casa Ruibalid is a Territorial adobe house on the Rio Blanco about ten miles south of Pagosa Springs. Believed to be the second house built in the Rio Blanco area, it was occupied throughout the first half of the twentieth century by Casimiro Ruibalid and his descendants. The house is the best surviving example of early Hispano settlement patterns in Archuleta County, and in 1995 it was listed on the State Register of Historic Places.
The river valleys in southern Archuleta County started to attract Hispanos from the San Luis Valley and northern New Mexico in the late 1870s, after the 1873 Brunot Agreement opened the area to settlement and the establishment of Camp Lewis at Pagosa Springs in 1878 promised protection to new arrivals. By 1880, communities such as Carracas, Juanita, and Trujillo had taken shape along the San Juan River, with settlers building adobe houses and raising crops and livestock.
Sometime in the 1880s or 1890s, an early Hispano settler named Clemente Flores built an adobe house on the Rio Blanco about a mile and a half from its confluence with the San Juan River. The three-room, L-shaped house may have been just the second built in the area. Situated on high ground near the river, it had fourteen-inch adobe walls and a flat roof, typical of many Hispanic adobe buildings.
By about 1900 Flores abandoned or sold his land and returned to New Mexico. Around 1903 the building and surrounding land were settled by Casimiro Ruibalid, who was originally from Conejos County in the San Luis Valley. Ruibalid expanded the house to accommodate his family, adding a half story and a gabled roof, typical of Territorial Adobe buildings that mixed traditional adobe construction with Anglo design elements. The extra space allowed the Ruibalid family to use the building as a two-story house, with a kitchen, living room, and parents’ bedroom on the main level and three children’s bedrooms on the upper floor.
After Ruibalid died in 1928, the house and land passed to his granddaughter, Elisama Martinez. She raised her son, Manuel Martinez, in the house before selling it in 1949. Today the house is not occupied, but the exterior remains in good condition. The building provides insight into early Hispano settlement in the area as well as a rare example of unmodified nineteenth-century adobe construction.