LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Renovations to a historic home in Las Cruces will soon be complete, and some hope the century-old property becomes the first addition to the city’s new historic register.
The home is significant because it once belonged to Hiram Hadley, the first president of what is now New Mexico State University. Dr. Robert McBride, who established one of the first hospitals in Las Cruces, also lived there and it was once used as a dairy.
Cynthia Hoffmann, a realtor who worked with Hurlburt Construction on the restoration design, said the property had fallen into disrepair. Renovations were started in 2018 by the owner at the time.
“It was practically falling down,” Hoffmann told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “This is a special treasure and it needs to be saved.”
A year and a half after work began, with renovations nearly complete, the home was recently sold to a Virgin Galactic employee and his wife who relocated to Las Cruces as the company prepares for commercial launches from Spaceport America. Hoffmann said the home was sold before it went on the market after the man came across it after getting lost while driving around the city.
The history of the home, which was built before New Mexico became a state, has been compiled from old newspapers, county records and historical collections housed at New Mexico State University’s library.
Hadley purchased the land in 1900 and built a small adobe home on it. In 1908, he sold it to McBride, who also served on the college’s board of regents. McBride added onto the house before selling it in 1912. It then changed hands several times over the years.
It has since tripled in size with the new construction. A pool, hot tub and water features were added in the backyard and a heating and cooling system was installed for the first time. The fireplace had been the only source of heat.
Wood beams were salvaged from Hadley’s original adobe home and reused. The pantry door is believed to originally have been a front door from 1908. It features an antique brass doorbell.
Las Cruces city councilors in December approved the creation of a historic preservation ordinance, which set up a process for property owners to apply for historic designation and established a commission to oversee preservation.
City Historic Preservation Specialist Troy Ainsworth confirmed that, if approved, the Hadley/McBride House would be the first property added to the city register. To end up on the list, a property needs to be more than 50 years old or hold some historical significance if newer.
Since the ordinance went into effect, he said there’s been some interest from property owners but no follow-through. Ainsworth said the COVID-19 pandemic likely delayed some plans.
Under the ordinance, owners must choose to initiate the process. Existing historic sites in Las Cruces, which could be on the state or national registers, were not grandfathered into the city register. But those sites are still eligible, Ainsworth said.
The owners of the Hadley/McBride House plan to apply for designation. Members of the Historic Preservation Commission have visited the home, Hoffmann said.
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