San Felipe de Alburquerque, named for King Phillip V of Spain and the Duke of Alburquerque was founded in 1706 by Gov. Francisco Cuervo Valdez with 30 families from Bernalillo accompanied by soldiers to protect them from nomadic Indians. Spanish custom required the church to be ready when a town was established so it is assumed that the church was also built in 1706. The original church faced east toward the old plaza which extended north and south after floods and disasters it was remodeled in 1795 much as we see it today. The present plaza dates from American times. In Spanish day the tow was often raided by hostile Indians. With the opening of overland trade Albuquerque became an important stop on the Santa Fe –Chihuahua trail. Presented by Woodmen of the World April 1969.
In 1821 Mexican became independent from Spain and the flag of the Mexican Republic flew over the plaza. Trade began with the U.S. and soon wagons rolled over the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri. They came through Alburquerque on their way to Chihuahua. The wagons brought new products, customs and people traders, mountain men and trappers passed through the plaza. In 1846 the stars and strips were raised over the plaza by U.S. troops under Gen. Stephen W. Kearny followed by Col. Doniphan of the Missouri volunteers and Col. Cooke with the Mormon Batallion. Susan Magoffin lent charm and the camel corps a bizarre note as they passed this plaza. Pioneers moved west and Albuquerque was a major town by the time of the Civil War. Presented by Plaza Business Association June 1969.
March 2, 1862, the Union Cavalry commanded by Capt. Herbert Enos abandoned the garrison at Alburquerque, burned buildings, food and materiel and retreated north to Ft. Union. Gen. Henry Sibly, commander of the southern forces entered the city and raised the Confederate flag over the plaza. Some citizens were pro-south but most were loyal to the U.S. After the defeat of the Confederate army at Apache Canyon they retreated to Albuquerque. Union General E. R. S. Canby began the bombardment of Albuquerque on April 10, 1862. After several hours he ordered a cease-fire to protect citizens. The Confederates buried their cannons and under cover of darkness left Albuquerque, dispersed as an army and returned to Texas. Presented by Albuquerque Historical Society July 1969.
After the Civil War there was great change in Old Albuquerque bur without the lawlessness that marked other frontier towns it was a supply center for Indians, farmers, ranchers and military posts. Hotels, saloons, dance halls, blacksmith shops, stables and eventually a school and bank joined the old Church around the plaza in 1880 the railroad came but its route lay 2 miles east. Most business moved to new town and a horse drawn street car down railroad avenue joined the two Albuquerques. Once again the plaza became an island of yesterday surrounded by a sea of change and progress and thus it remains today- the historic birthplace of the Duke City – Albuquerque. Presented by The Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque April, 1970