The Capitol Courthouse is one of the most historic buildings in the territory. A trip through it is an absolute must. Take some time to look at the vigas and latillas. The vigas are the large wooden beams which support the roof. The latillas are the stripped branches which are layered between the vigas supporting up to a half a foot of mud on the ceiling for insulation. This old adobe has original 18 inch mud bricks.
This historic building listed on the Historic Register was built early in Mesilla’s history. It has housed the capitol of the New Mexico Arizona territories, the details of the Treaty of Mesilla (the Gadsden Purchase) were partially worked out here and served as the county court and jail.. It was here on April 12, 1881, that Billy the Kid was sentenced to hang. He was taken to Lincoln County for execution where he later escaped. He later met his death at the hands of Pat Garrett, who was one of Dona Ana’s pioneer sheriffs. Some say the ghost of Billy the Kid still lives in this building. At one time this building held a courthouse, jail and school at the same time. Children would be let out of school before a hanging so they would not see it. In 1905 the first of many bars occupied this property until the 1970’s when a gift shop was opened on the premises.
Take some time to browse through the interesting gift shop which now resides in this building. Try to listen to the secrets of the past and don’t forget to take a piece of history with you.