Newspaper Archive of
Hidalgo County Herald
Lordsburg, New Mexico
September 24, 2010     Hidalgo County Herald
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September 24, 2010

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- -~-,..+. - -- + -- - mum ~_j~~J~++_ 1 0 HIDALGO COUNTY HERALD FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2010 rvation Kent Hall- the saving and restoration of a beautiful building A story of restoration, not demo- lition! Kent Hall has served New Mexico State University for the last 80 years and is still one of the most beautiful build- ings on campus. It carries on the proud tradition of NMSU, embracing New Mexico and the surround- mg area's cultures and heri- tage. Kent Hall has gone through many changes in its 80-year history. It was initially built as a men's dormitory. NMSU, which was called New Mexico A & M at the time, hired Percey McGhee of the E1 Paso, Texas architectural firm Braunton and McGhee to design the building. McGhee wanted to con- tinue the Henry Trost tra- dition of Mission Revival Architecture and designed the dormitory with an ar- cade, a cupola with a tiled dome on top, and a red- tiled roof. [NOTE: Henry Trost designed the now-de- molished Hotel Hidalgo in Lordsburg and the threat- ened old Lordsburg High School (Enrichment Cen- ter), pictured above in 1930.] Construction began in 1929 by the J.C. McElroy firm of E1 Paso and was completed in 1930, cost- ing $76,000. The two- story building consisted of three wings~ a balcony overlooking an inner patio, and measured 19,000 square feet. Entrance to the building was on the north side. which led into a spa- cious lounge and living room. The dormitory was designed for 80 men, with four men to a room. Each room had an outside entrance leading to the balcony, which overlooked the patio. Even though Kent Hall was known as the men's dormitory for its first ten years, women were actually the first occupants dur- ing the summer of 1930. The women's dormitory, McFie Hall, was being remodeled, and the women had to be temporarily housed in the new dormitory. On May 22, 1939, the build- ing was officially dedicated and named after the former President of the College, Dr. Harry L. Kent, who served from 1921 to 1936. The exterior of Kent Hall re- mained the same from 1930 to 1960. Then, women became oc- cupants of the dormitory. For their safety, first floor windows were covered and the arcade was al- tered. Other than these minor changes, the building remained unchanged until 1986. In 1964, the building be- Comanche family, early 1900s Within the fabric of American identity is woven a story that has long been invisible -- the lives and experiences of people who sha re African American and Native American ancestry. Af- rican and Native peoples came together in the Americas. Over centuries, African Americans and Native Americans created shared histo- ries, communities, families, and ways of life. Prejudice, laws, and twists of history have of- ten divided them from others, yet African-Na- tive American people were united in the struggle against slavery and dispossession, and then for self-determination and freedom. Photo Courtesy Sam DeVenney. came the home of the newly cre- ated Speech Department. It re- mained there until 1980. Interior remodeling turned it from a dor- mitory to an office building. Over the years ROTe, PSL, the Peace Corps, and an animal labo- ratory occupied parts of the build- ing. In 1981. Kent Hall became the University Museum's new home after having spent many years in the Seed House. The Mu, seum shared Kent Hall with the Cultural Resource Management Division. a branch of the Depart- merit of Sociology and Anthro- pology. In 1986. a one half-tuillion dollar renovation transformed the 19,000 square foot building into a modern facility, accommodat- ing a large accumulation of Mu- seum collections, as well as two galleries, offices, and classrooms. The architect assigned to reno- vate Kent Hall, Rick Kentzler, wanted to keep McGhee's origi- nal architectural designs. Kentzler added wrought zron gates to the arcade for added security and trans- formed the patio into a landscaped plaza to com- pliment the adjacent cam- pus buildings. A new heat- ing and cooling system and a security monitoring sys- tem were also installed. Once the construction was complete, Kent Hall re- opened homecoming Week- end, October 17-18, 1986, featuring the exhibit "Anasazi World." The Museum collec- tions are primarily anthro- pological (archaeological and ethnographic) with secondary collections in history and the cultural sci- ences. Anthropological collections document the cultural diversity of the border in the Greater Southwest and Northern Mexico. The preservation and cataloguing of collec- tions are Museum priorities to promote research and access to cultural materials. Exhibits are developed by students and staff as well as brought in from other in- stitutions. These exhibits focus on the traditions of on-go- ing historic and prehistoric cultures. Past exhibits have explored life in 1930s New Mexico, Southwestern weavings, prehistoric cul- tural interactions along the Gila River. the Fremont ex- pedition, and everyday life in a Las Cruces Hispanic household at the turn of the 20th century. The Museum also provides public lectures on a va- riety of topics. These lectures fea- ture faculty, staff, and visiting ex- perts who present insights on cul- tural traditions, events, and ac- tivities. Kent Hall and the University Museum are located at the inter- section of University Avenue and Solano Drive, Las Cruces, NM. 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