Since 1987, NMAF has conducted architecture tours to encourage and share interest in New Mexico’s enchanting treasures. This year’s Toast to Trost on Oct. 28 will be the Foundation’s 30th tour. The day will kick-off with a lecture by NMAF member and architect Channell Graham, one of the founders of the Albuquerque Conservation Association (TACA).
Henry C. Trost (1860-1933) is considered to have done more to shape Albuquerque’s downtown skyline than any other architect working in the Duke City. He is responsible for designing many of Central Avenue’s signature structures in the early years of the 20th century. Henry Trost was the chief designer for the firm of Trost & Trost based in El Paso, Texas. He studied architecture in Chicago and is reputed to have worked for Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.
2017 ARCHITECTURAL TOUR
Celebrate 30 Years with A Toast to Trost
Saturday, October 28
Trost & Trost was responsible for numerous projects throughout New Mexico and the southwest. This year eight notable Trost & Trost buildings will be featured in the New Mexico Architectural Foundation’s annual architectural tour in central Albuquerque.
Summaries below written by Jon Knudsen with Duke City Fix
First National Bank
This bank building has to be the most solid looking bank building in the city. Erected in 1922 it reeks of money, power, and permanence. The heavy cornice at the top of this el shaped building tops off the towering mass of the structure. Such detailing 141 feet in the air shows how much attention Henry Trost paid to this ornamentation. The cornice really is an architectural tribute to the self-contained omnipotence of the bank. It completes the structure and acts like a heavy lid on a stewpot of money.
The last building Henry Trost designed in Albuquerque was the Sunshine, which was built in 1924. It housed a huge 920-seat theater on the ground floor. The brick veneer covers a reinforced concrete structure like so many of his other buildings. He uses another heavily ornamented cornice, complimenting his First National Bank building across the street. The marble and oak lobby is supposed to be restored, but I have never seen it. It is too bad that the theater marquee and vertical neon sign shown on the city’s website have been lost. They were so beautiful.
Occidental Life Building
With the exception of the Kimo Theatre probably the most recognizable of all downtown structures is the Occidental Insurance Building on the corner Third and Gold SW. Built in 1917 in response to a suggestion from Occidental president A.B. McMillan after a European tour, Trost designed the insurance company’s headquarters to resemble the Doge’s Palace in Venice. It is of masonry construction with glazed terra cotta tile facing. The tile was manufactured by the Denver Terra-Cotta Tile Co.
When Aron and Edward Rosenwald opened their new department store at the corner of 4th and Central, the Albuquerque Morning Journal raved it was “the handsomest, most up to date, and most complete department store in the southwest.” The date was October 1, 1910. The Rosenwald Building was made of poured reinforced concrete, possibly the first such building in the entire southwest and certainly the first using that modern technique in Albuquerque. Of course it was touted as fireproof. However, as Dewitt noted, “A fire which began in a mattress in 1921 pointed out that although the building was fireproof, the contents were not.” After the fire, a McClellan store occupied the main floor for a long time. In 1981 it was restored to its original state, including the magnificent 2-story entranceway which had been reduced during the McClellan tenancy.
Old Main, Albuquerque High School
Old Main was built in 1914 as the permanent home for the city’s high school students. It was built to hold 500 students, a number so astronomical that nay sayers were sure it would never reach capacity. It was state of the art in school design, even including a science lab, gymnasium, and an 850 seat auditorium. The school’s design is called Gothic Revival, but this building retains Trost’s use of horizontal bands of windows, solid construction, and attention to detail. Ornamentation such as the friezes with the eleven muses seem picked to reinforce the mission of the building. The rest of the old AHS campus was designed by local architects George Williamson and Louis Hesselden to blend in with Trost’s original Old Main.
Berthold Spitz House
This house has all the elements of the Prairie School: a broad hipped roof, large projecting eaves, dark wood framing bands of windows arranged horizontally. If it were not in the middle of town, it would play against its surroundings, shading the occupants from the bright midday sun. It was built somewhere around the time of the Rosenwald Building for a merchant and would-be politician, Berthold Spitz. Spitz died in 1933, the same year as Trost.
Additional site tours:
Copper Square and Quickle Auto & Supply Building