Montalvo House exhibits new use for cactus

Cactus juice, sand and caliche form walls

The following was submitted by Silk Waters, executive director of The Montalvo House in Brackettville.

Cactus is as much a part of Texas history as ranching, but historic landmark The Montalvo House in Brackettville utilizes the prolific plant in a way many might not recognize.

“Our organization is restoring a two-room home that was constructed in 1887,” said Tim Miller, Montalvo House board chairman. “The walls are made from cedar posts and were then covered with what is referred to as caliche/lime plaster. This plaster is quite fascinating, as it is made from fermented cactus juice, sand and caliche and/or what is currently referred to as Type S lime.”

The mixture of these elements is a dying art, and it took The Montalvo House non-profit organization almost 12 years to learn how to make it. Now the organization provides workshops on the technique, hoping to inspire new and existing home builders to consider using an old recipe that is both sustainable, affordable and locally available.


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