Located within historic Santa Fe, the Sena Plaza has a history that stretches back to when Santa Fe was part of the Spanish Empire. Originally granted to Captain Arias de Quiros by General Diego de Vargas, with whom he campaigned during the reconquest of New Mexico in 1693, the land was later divided by a few families. The land that houses the plaza was claimed by Don Juan Sena in 1796, would stay in Sena hands until the 1860s. Other parts were owned by throughout time Juan Nepomuceno Alaríd, who willed it a Sena relative in 1844. What would become the plaza was owned by José D. Sena, who was a major in the United States army during the Civil War, and married Doña Isabel Cabeza de Baca, daughter of an equally prominent Santa Fe family, in 1864. He wanted to build a home and garden for his bride. Overtime the building has been expanded lengthwise and height-wise, and the courtyard, later plaza, expanded and repaired. Now the Sena Plaza holds a park and businesses.
Backstory and Context
"The land on which Sena Plaza now stands was once part of the property granted to Captain Arias de Quiros by General Diego de Vargas, with whom he campaigned during the reconquest of New Mexico in 1693. By the will of Juan Nepomuceno Alaríd, dated 1844, this portion of the Arias de Quiros property passed to his sister, Maria del Rosario Alaríd, wife of Juan Estevan Sena, and thence to their son, José D. Sena, who was a major in the United States army during the Civil War.
At the time of Don José's marriage in 1864 to Doña Isabel Cabeza de Baca, daughter of an equally prominent Santa Fe family, the property included a placita to the west and a small adobe house, which eventually increased to become a hacienda containing thirty-three rooms. All of these were on the first floor except for the second-story ballroom added to the west side. This was reached, as it is today, by an outside stairway. After the territorial capitol burned on May 13, 1892, this ballroom served as a meeting place for the legislative assembly until it could be housed elsewhere.
The family of Don José, which included eleven children, lived on the south, east, and west sides of the inner patio, where guests were always welcomed with Spanish hospitality. A coach house, storerooms, a chicken house, and servants' quarters occupied space on the north. The well at the east and two front entrances remain in their original location, but a well at the west has been filled. Upon the death of Major Sena and his wife, the land was divided into equal strips, 16 ½ varas in width, for the six surviving children. In 1927 these heirs deeded the property to Senator Bronson M. Cutting, Martha K. White, and Amelia E. White, who restored and remodeled the building for preservation. The original two-story portion at the west had been deeded to Dr. Frank E. Mera, who added it to the restoration project. The heirs reserved the right, however, to erect the family altar under the portal facing Palace Avenue for the annual Corpus Christi procession, and for many years thereafter it was a colorful part of this religious celebration. The second story on the eastern and northern portions of the building was added in 1927, when the properly changed hands. This work was done under the supervision of William Penhallow Henderson, a well-known Santa Fe artist, designer, and builder. lt is a classic example of how a historic building can be restored and reconstructed to adapt to modern business requirements while keeping the integrity of the original.
Because of the long, continuous portal in front of the Sena, Prince, and Trujillo buildings on this site, the inclusive name "Sena Plaza" is often given to the entire building complex. The above data refer only to the building and patio at its eastern end and not to those on the west."