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The Anna Leon Guerrero house in Inarajan.


We chose Inarajan for Pacific Worlds because you can still see Guam evolving in the architecture of the homes, you can see the evolution of Guam and its lifestyle," Joe explains. "And that’s where culture is, in the homes, that’s where you know what happened. All the homes are basically the same. You start with your main home that was used only for sleeping, and then it started to extend as the different influences came in, that gave us a certain style and purpose for a home."



“When you look at the traditional home, it is much the same concept as with the latte-stone houses. If you think of a bigger hut like that, and bigger latte stones, the home is on top, and the bottom is open. Well, it sort of evolved to this one here, it was a hut and you look at the pitched roof on top, and always keep that in mind that it evolved from that one to this one.

"The home did not consist of several buildings, but there were several different parts to it."


Grass Huts

Old pitched-roof huts in Inarajan. From the collection of the Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center.



The historical houses have a bodega underneath.


“They covered the bottom, and this area we call bodega.” Therese explains, “A bodega is basically a storage area, where they stored staple food, and livestock, like chickens. Especially during typhoon, you don’t want chickens to fly away.”

“They adopted it from the Spanish,” Joe adds, “and they put rubble and lime together to make the walls. It serves as a good insulation, so the temperature remains constant. Some bodegas are bigger, and some people make that into another room. It has evolved.”



The Jose Cruz house.


“Now this house is owned by Jose Cruz." Joe continues. "Jose Cruz is the village carpenter, and so if you look at his house, you’ll see a lot of detailed work. You look at the stairs going up and you see the typical Spanish grand staircase, with thick walls, and you look at the railings and it is the typical Spanish railings. It sort of evolved from the church; first you see it on the church, and then you see it at residences.

"The siding is batten board. This is from way back when nails were scarce, so you only did the part at the end, and then you slide the wood down. It’s a tongue-and-groove type construction. When you see the ceiling, you’re going to see that it still retains the thatched-hut pitch roof, and they just went ahead and did a ceiling around it."



“This is the next level from the thatched roof to this one here." Joe refers to the red-and-white house pictured at the top of this page. "If you look at the pitched roof, that still remains with the thatch-roof concept; and then your bodega, the bottom portion of the house is original, and your batten board, the strips of wood on the siding, shows that this is basically original from the evolution of the thatched roof home to the later home. The house is owned by the late Anna Leon Guerrero."



The original posts, and the short hallway down to the previously detached kitchen.


"So if you can imagine this as a thatched home, and evolving into something like this. The pillars are original, from the old structure. That represents the old thatched house. These internal walls would not be here, and this main room area would be used mainly as your sleeping quarters.

"Then when the Spanish came in, and put in the walls, and put in the ceiling, they sort of gave it a name for the living room, la sala, and a name for the bedroom, apusento. And that’s when this partition took place. And then you went from there to pre-war, where you have your extension, out into your kitchen. In prewar, the kitchen started to be attached to the home."


“The floor of this house is made of ifet wood," Therese points out. "It's very hard, even termites can’t get through that wood. That’s how hard that wood is and how well it withstands time.”

“The windows swing out," Sherey explains, "and you put the stick to hold it open,” Sherey points out. “Then it went from there, if you had a little bit more money, you went to windows that slide to open, which was much stronger as far as typhoon. And then you have the louvers. You really were something, you knew you had some class, if you had louvers."


Half a coconut husk was used like this to shine the ifet-wood floor.



The outside kitchen at Therese's house in Lada.


"A Chamorro house is not complete without its outside kitchen," Therese asserts. "Especially in the Southern part of Guam, any household that has Chamorro families always has an outside kitchen. The inside kitchen is usually so immaculate because hardly anybody eats there. Everybody congregates on the outside. It’s easier to bring visitors into the outside kitchen than to bring them indoors. It’s more spacious, it’s cooler, it’s more inviting, people can just relax instead of taking off their shoes and going into the house. During parties or other events, the outside kitchen is the most used place during those events.


Map showing the location of Historic Preservation Trust homes in Inarajan village.


"The houses have changed a lot," Therese concludes. They used to be thatched houses, then pretty soon it went to wooden houses with thatched roofs, and thatched roofs to tin or wooden roofs, and then concrete — or part concrete, part tin. Now a lot of the houses now have concrete roofs, or they just changed the tin on the top and made it a little more sturdy. Some of the houses have been broken down and rebuilt. So, you see the difference between the '40’s, the '50’s and the '60’s, and today."

Damage and reconstruction in the wake of typhoons have left their marks not only on the houses, but on the focal center of Inarajan—the church.



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