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Franciscan Hotel
Albuquerque, New Mexico


Description: Franciscan Hotel
Other Names:
Address: Central Avenue and Sixth Street, northwest corner, Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico
Type: hotel
Original Client: Albuquerque Hotel Company (a community project, begun in 1920, led by the Kiwanis Club and the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce); initially leased to a company headed by M.T. Grier, the hotel’s first manager.
Date: opened to guests on December 8, 1923; formal opening on December 15, 1923
Condition: closed in October, 1970, and demolished in May, June and July, 1972

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost; George P. Hill; interiors by Mitchel & Halbach, of Chicago, assisted by Inez B. Westlake, of Albuquerque; furniture supplied by Albert Pick & Company of Chicago: Westlake, and W. W. Hanville of Pick’s staff, designed the furniture
Contractors: Ponsford Brothers, general contractors
Dimensions and Orientation: faced south; 150 guest rooms, of which 50 were equipped with a private bathroom facilities; six stories, plus basement and penthouse; height, from grade to top of roof parapet: 92 feet; width: 126 feet; depth: 145 feet
Budget/Cost: The hotel was financed by stock in the amount of $330,000, sold by public subscription, as a community project.

Foundation: concrete
Wall Materials: exposed re-enforced concrete
Roofing Materials: Johns Manville Standard built up asbestos roofing
Other Materials Used: There were two semi spherical domes, with a radius of about four feet, constructed of plaster over wire laths, located above the fourth floor on the four story projecting pavilions on the southeast and southwest corners of the building, supported by a drum pierced with Semicircular arches and topped with lanterns; at least one of these has been preserved and is privately owned in Albuquerque. See the Ink on linen drawing in the El Paso Public Library (K-2), part of sheet 18 (listed below). Other material used on the exterior included staff and wood.
Remodeling and Additions: An extensive remodeling project was begun in March, 1963, with Ernest G. Sanchez, JR. as contractor. The budget was $250,000, and plans called for a new basement meeting hall, a new bar and lounge, and modernizing of the guest rooms and hotel offices. It is not known to what extent these plans were carried out.

Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: (H-20) 4 sheets of ink on linen plans; (K-1) 3 sheets tissue plans; (K-2) 34 sheets of ink on linen plans, dated November, 1921.
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library, Ponsford 333-347

Bibliography: (1) Artists and Architects Who Visit Here Praise New Hotel; It Is Typical of Southwest, Albuquerque Morning Journal, April 5, 1923, page 14 (narrative account of the financing of the hotel; role of Mitchel & Halbach as interior designers; description of the hotel and its furnishings)
(2) Edna Heatherington Bergman, The Fate of Architectural Theory in Albuquerque: Buildings of Four Decades, 1920-1960, Master of Architecture thesis, University of New Mexico, 1978, pages 80-83 (assessment of the Franciscan Hotel in the general context of architecture in Albuquerque; figure 20 on page [81] is a photograph of the exterior)
(3) Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht, Henry C. Trost: Architect of the Southwest (El Paso: El Paso Public Library Association, 1981), pages 49, 59 and 100-110 (description of the hotel and its reputation, floor plan of upper story, exterior and interior photographs); pages 136-138 (bibliographic notes)
(4) Albuquerque Morning Journal, December 2, 1923 page 1
Remarks: Commission No. 2538
In addition to her work on the furniture and interiors, Inez B. Westlake was also credited with the design of the hotel’s dishes and stationery.The original brochure for the hotel was designed by Carl Hertzog of El Paso.

The Franciscan Hotel was the only one of Henry Trost’s buildings known to have attracted the attention of Europeans during his lifetime; see bibliography item 3 above, pages 108-109 and 137-138. The building was included in an exhibit at the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin in 1926. Also in Edgell ‘s American Architecture of Today 1928. ( discussed at length and illustrations)

At the  Crossroad of the Centuries : “Since first coming to the Southwest to practice the profession of architecture, it has been a dream of ours to catch the elusive atmosphere of that most typical of all regional architecture – the Pueblo Indian theme, blending as it does the Morrish motive of Old Spain and the crude aboriginal ideas of the Indians, who built their communal houses under the direction and influence of the Franciscan Fathers. We feel this dream has been realized in the Franciscan Hotel. Aside for the purely architectural features of The Franciscan, we cannot help but feel that this building will stand as milestone marking the passage of the Pueblo architecture in its primitive state.” Trost & Trost

In the opinion of the Lloyd Engelbrecht and June Marie Engelbrecht, the Franciscan Hotel was among the finest of all Pueblo Revival buildings.

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990