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Adobe Houses Are Made of Mud and Straw — and Some Now Cost $1 Million Because of Rising Taxes

July 23, 2019
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Adobe Houses Are Made of Mud and Straw — and Some Now Cost $1 Million Because of Rising Taxes
Alan Thompson
Once affordable, adobe homes in West Texas are quickly becoming the purview of the wealthy. This man has a plan to reverse that.

Considered one of the earliest building materials known to man, adobe is a mixture of dirt, water and straw first used by natives of the American Southwest. Today, adobe homes remain popular thanks to their ability to regulate climate during blistering summers and cold winters. But in an area of West Texas along the Mexican border, the cost of adobe is skyrocketing.

At the center of the controversy are newcomers to Marfa, Texas — a desert outpost turned arts mecca. As the town continues to gentrify, the wealthy residents moving here have given adobe a new cachet, in the process driving up the cost of the once-affordable material. And in a county where the average median income is just above $29,000, the adobe homes now on the market are going for upward of $1 million. That has forced locals to abandon adobe in favor of cheaper building options like concrete.

Local resident Sandro Canovas is a third-generation brickmaker on a mission to keep the adobe building tradition alive — and to keep the cost of it down. To do so, Canovas has been holding public workshops on building with adobe for free. 

Watch the video above to see how Canovas’s efforts are preserving the historical significance of adobe construction and inspiring a new generation to learn the craft.

More: This Group Is Documenting Ancient Murals in Texas Before They’re Wiped out by Climate Change

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