Along with a celebration of its 30 year anniversary, the New Mexico Architectural Foundation’s annual tour took place on Saturday, Oct. 28 focusing on the work of Henry Trost and the architecture firm of Trost & Trost.
The tour was a well attended and began with an informative lecture by NMAF member and architect Channell “Chan” Graham, one of the founders of the Albuquerque Conservation Association (TACA). Next, participants were able to get a peek into several residential loft spaces in the First National Bank and “Old Main” buildings. From there, a bus load of architecture fans were happy to see the inside and out of several of Albuquerque’s iconic buildings. This being the Foundation’s 30th anniversary year, we celebrated with a toast and anniversary cake in the “Old Main” courtyard.
Henry Trost and his firm had a lasting impact on the city of Albuquerque. Beginning around 1910 and continuing for several decades, the Trost and Trost architectural firm helped transform Albuquerque into modern city from it’s beginnings as a ranching, rail, and sleepy regional commercial town. The population in 1910 was just barely over 11,000 but the place was waking up. The university had been established twenty years before and the Santa Fe Railroad had invested a great deal in developing the rail yards and the depot and then opened the massive Alvarado Hotel in 1902. New Mexico became a state in 1912 and still had elements of the wild west. It had been part of Mexico just 65 years earlier … in living memory. Much of the town’s early town life centered around Old Town, largely made up of adobe buildings and homes dating back into the early 1800s.
The creation of the rail depot in 1880 eventually moved most of the commercial activity to New Town, about two miles away but the town had a split personality. Commercial and banking activity was moving to New Town but the courthouse remained in Old Town into the 1920s. The new buildings and development in New Town in the early 1900s helped create the modern city that we have today.
The First National Bank Building and the “Old Main” High School have been repurposed to include modern lofts for sale or rent. The Sunshine Building, the city’s first movie theater, still serves as a theater venue for rock concerts or other events. There is plenty of office and retail space still in use in the commercial buildings. The Berthold Spitz House, now restored close to the original design, still commands attention on the corner of Marquette and Tenth Streets. Frank Lloyd Wright, when observing the house on a tour of Albuquerque, reportedly said “Well, somebody in this town has taste”. Yes, Frank, we know.