Elegant and Useful

The Albuquerque Press Club

Driving around Albuquerque, you might be curious about some of the elegant, old architecture you see, particularly near the Old Town area. These buildings do tell a story. It’s about the intellectual and creative adventurers who came before us. They settled and shaped the southwest in a holistic spirit. One of these treasures is the Albuquerque Press Club.

I was given a rich and fascinating 1/2 day tour by the generous Nick of Backroad Wrangler.  Nick is a native New Mexican and a passionate scholar of his homeland’s urban and rural historic landscapes and people. On the subject of architecture, there is more to see than the Press Club, but that will be another article and another tour.

Drive along Silver Avenue Southeast and you will find Highland Park at the intersection of Silver and Locust Street. At one end of the park, there is a high point, and that is where you will find the Albuquerque Press Club. Built in 1902 by architect Charles Wittlesey, it was originally the home to his family for about three years, until 1905. At the time he built his home, Wittlesey was working for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway as their chief architect, and designed the famous Harvey Houses. El Tovar Hotel, at the Grand Canyon’s south rim, still stands. The Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque has been razed, but a structure of a similar style is the present train station at First Street and Central Avenue.

Example of a vernacular house in Oppdal, Norway

Having studied architecture in Chicago, under Louis Sullivan, Wittlesey had made the acquaintance of Frank Lloyd Wright, who also became noted for his work and might have been similarly influenced by Sullivan. Whittlesey also worked with Mary Colter, interior designer for the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, and who also designed the interiors for the Alvarado.

Though early twentieth-century architecture in Europe showed the popularity of the emerging Edwardian style, the Press Club is a three-story structure in the style of a Norwegian villa in the vernacular style. By definition, its elements have been adapted more from necessity than influence from the popular architectural styles of the day. The design and materials used reflect what may have been available locally and affected by the climate of Norway. The influence of the Edwardian and earlier Victorian styles of architectural design can be seen in other buildings around Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Press Club

This Norwegian structure was home to several owners and their families before becoming a meeting place for writers.

Charles Frederick Whittlesey https://www.revolvy.com/topic/Charles-Frederick-Whittlesey

Backroad Wrangler



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