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U.S. Statehood Architecture
U.S. Statehood Architecture, 1912 – 1945

In the early 1900s the railroad started constructing its own buildings in Pueblo or Spanish mission style. About this time, Albuquerqueans began to realize that part of the ambience attractive to visitors was the experience of a unique architectural environment. 

The Alvarado Hotel, completed in 1902, was the finest railroad hotel of its time. Charles F. Whittlesey designed the California Mission-style building, which featured towers, balconies, and arcades supported by arches.

In 1927 the UNM Board of Regents formally adopted the Pueblo architectural style for campus buildings. In 1933 John Gaw Meem, a prominent supporter of Pueblo style, became university architect.

Meem melded these styles and brought them into the 20th century with his Pueblo Revival style, which employed vigas, rounded corners, and multiple stories with sloped or terraced walls. He designed 30 structures on UNM’s campus. Two notable ones in the 1930s, the Administration Building (Scholes Hall) and Zimmerman Library, were funded through WPA sources. This solidified the campus as one with an immediate sense of place and featured award-winning buildings and landscape designs.

This popularity of Spanish-Pueblo design carried over to the community. Numbers of commercial buildings maintained the trend. The KiMo Theatre, built in 1927, was designed by Hollywood architect Carl Boller, in Pueblo Deco style, which embraced the old and the new and added Indian designs. It was one of the nation’s first theaters with a cantilevered balcony, which didn’t require view-blocking support beams.
The Hotel Franciscan in 1923, designed by Trost & Trost of El Paso, had a number of Spanish and Pueblo features, including an eight-story central room block set back from the street above the first floor and flanked by three, four-story towers. It also featured concrete vigas, canales, simulated adobe walls, a portal with wooden posts, and corbels. The concrete was finished to look like adobe. Interior furnishings were also Southwestern. It was the first major, downtown building to employ Southwestern design to appeal to visitors. But the second federal building, adjacent to the post office was in Pueblo deco style.

Other buildings reflected outside influences. In 1908 the federal government built in Renaissance Revival style the former post office at Fourth and Gold. In 1910 the Rosenwald building, a department store, was the first fireproof, reinforced concrete building in state.

In 1914 the old Albuquerque High School at Central and Broadway was built in Gothic style, with arched doors and bay windows. Another distinctive building that still stands is the 1917 Occidental Life Insurance Co. building at Third and Gold, modeled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice. It’s a masonry building faced with white tile. The architects were Trost & Trost of El Paso, who designed many of Albuquerque’s commercial buildings in those years.

Albuquerque got its first two skyscrapers in the early 1920s, both designed in Renaissance style by Trost & Trost. The first was the nine-story First National Bank building at Central and Third Street, built in 1922. It featured tall, arched windows on the first floor and decorative details. In 1923 the six-story Sunshine Building went up at Second and Central. It was Albuquerque’s first big theater and boasted an ornate marble lobby. In 1930 the federal government built a second building next to the downtown post office. It was a six-story courthouse and office building, which indicated the government’s increasing presence in the city.

When the Depression struck, after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, commercial building in Albuquerque ground to a halt. In the 1930s an infusion of federal relief money would fuel construction of numerous buildings at UNM, as well as the State Fairgrounds and the first municipal airport – all in Pueblo style.

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