Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Dorathea Dunakin



Honored November, 1987

Dorathea Dunakin

Dorathea Dunakin arrived in Santa Fe in 1912. She came, with her mother and brother, to join her father. "We came on the Santa Fe (Railway) to Lamy," she recalled.

"Then we came on from Lamy, which was the only way to get to Santa Fe, unless you came by horse and buggy."

She was born in Pueblo, Colorado in 1900. Dorothea's father, Adolph Koch, worked for American Laundry Machinery. He had traveled to Santa Fe to install equipment for a laundry owned by La Fonda Hotel. Back then, "Men wore these thick collars, and to get them done up, you had to mail them to Albuquerque," Dorathea said. "At that time, the D&R Chief came by on what is now Guadalupe Street, and that made it very easy to get heavy machinery shipped down." When the hotel decided not to keep the laundry, Adolph purchased it, kept it for a short time, and then opened the Santa Fe Electric Laundry. Located at the corner of Washington and Guadalupe streets, it was so named because electrical equipment was used to run the washing machines.

In 1915, Dorathea's father bought a house on Agua Fria, now 229 Polaco Street. "An irrigation ditch ran down Agua Fria at that time, and the house was surrounded by alfalfa fields," said Dorathea. "The house was originally two stories. It was built before the Civil War," but the top story had burned before the Koch family bought the property. Some of the timbers were stamped "not made by slave labor," and some of the floors were laid with "battleship" linoleum.

"Archbishop Lamy sent for all these trees to give to the churches. He planted all these Carolina poplars" along the ditch on Agua Fria, Dorathea said. "The last one of the Carolina poplars had to be cut down in 1986. Because we watered after the ditch was gone, we had the trees longer than anyone else. I'm sure it was the last tree left in Santa Fe planted by Archbishop Lamy."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes