Here is the story of our wonderful supporters, avid historical preservationists, and proud Texans, Steve and Isha Rogers Santamaria.
In December of 2017, The Tom Lea Institute had a fundraiser, and one of the auction items that Isha purchased was the chance to fly the Tom Lea Trail. It was a fantastic opportunity to visit the El Paso artist’s work around the great state of Texas. She thought it would be a fun Christmas gift for her (now) husband, Steve. After a few months of organizing, in May of 2018, their first stop was lunch with Laura Bush at George Bush’s Library in Dallas to visit the replica of the oval office where Tom Lea’s 1954 painting of The Rio Grande hung. The last stop on the trail was the amazing collection at The Bryan Museum, where they not only saw Tom Lea’s work but his first wife, Nancy Lea’s work as well. What an incredible ending to a magnificent journey. They were so impressed that they returned to the Bryan Museum Gala in November of 2019 and won the auction item to stay at The Gage Hotel and visit JP and Mary Jon at their Chalk Draw Ranch in Big Bend. The next step of course was to join the Old 300!
The number 420 has an unfortunate connection to the reference of marijuana. The connection between Steve and Isha Santamaria is the date they met: 4/20/14. They originally named their real estate company in El Paso, 420 Associates, but with Steve’s long hair and the fact that he came to El Paso from Colorado, they tired of the constant references to marijuana. They decided to change the name to St Rogers: St for Santamaria and Rogers, for Isha’s maiden name.
They have several apartment complexes and offices they have restored, but their jewel in the collection is the old Southwestern Railroad and Freight Depot which happens to be located at 420 North Campbell. They have lovingly restored it into a unique and historic venue available for all kinds of events. They decided to initiate the space with their own wedding. The soiree was held on 4/20/19 at 420 N. Campbell at 4:20 pm. Steve had retired from a 25-year career in the telecommunication industry when Isha met him in Vail, Colorado, and kidnapped him and brought him to El Paso. They went from newlyweds to empty nesters within four months when the last of Isha’s three children left for college.
One of Steve and Isha’s next projects is to restore The Hacienda, one of El Paso’s oldest buildings on the Rio Grande where Don Juan de Oñate crossed in May of 1598. They are also working on a project to restore Murchison Park on El Paso’s famous scenic drive, which overlooks three states and two countries.
In their words; “We are so grateful to JP and Mary Jon for sharing their magnificent collection. What a phenomenal experience to visit The Bryan; it’s an exhilarating trip through time. We are honored to be a part of the Old 300. Makes us damn proud to be Texans.”
Steve and Isha walk the talk when it comes to historical preservation and keeping alive the history we all cherish. The Bryan Museum is proud and grateful to have their friendship and support!