After being housed at different locations in the downtown Albuquerque area, AHS finally found a permanent home when Albuquerque High School was built in 1914, the same year that the Panama Canal opened and only two years after New Mexico became a state. AHS became a community landmark, steeped in culture and tradition.
The original building was Old Main, which is located at the corner of Broadway and Central and faces Central Avenue. It was designed by El Paso architect, Henry C. Trost, who designed many of the City's premier buildings during that era. In 1927, George Williamson, a local architect, was commissioned to design a Manual Arts Building in similar style, northeast of Old Main, facing Arno Road.
Ten years later, Albuquerque Public Schools took advantage of the New Deal funding to add three more buildings to the campus: In 1937, the Class Building (later known as Administrative); in 1938, the large Gymnasium Building; and in 1940, the Library Building. Another local architect, Louis Hesselden, designed all three to blend with the established Collegiate Gothic-style of the first two buildings.
Our school became a community landmark, steeped in culture and tradition. AHS also produced a potpourri of the City's greatest leaders and represented a cross section of Albuquerque's education, cultural, social, religious, civic, political, economic, professional, and scientific pupulation.
Suddenly, after three-quarters of a century and shortly before the USA celebrated its national bicentennial in 1974, old AHS was closed, forsaken, sold, and faced an uncertain future. A new AHS had been built about one mile north of our beloved AHS.
Demise of Old AHS
In the throes of a national recession in 1979, our beloved old Albuquerque High School unwittingly became a real estate casualty. Albuquerque Public Schools first sold the property to a local builder and developer, Elmer Sproul. Thereafter, Charles Hill of Franklin, MA, purchased it (in a distressed sale of some of Sproul's assets). Out-of-state ownership then became the coup de grace for old AHS. Our old school stood abandoned with windows broken, roofs leaking, and vagrants generally destroying the property for the next 20 years.
On October 10, 1995, following a series of protracted, private-sector endeavors to develop this historic property and years of legal entanglements over financing and ownership, the Federal Deposit Insurace Corporation awarded its lien interest on the old AHS to B&C, a San Diego, CA corporation doing business as Parking Company of America for 1.5 million dollars.
Resurrection of Old AHS
Meanwhile, the city of Albuquerque, by prior authorization of the City Council, initiated legal action to condemn the old AHS property for the purposes of friendly acquisition, timely stabilization of buildings, productive development and usage, and long-term preservation.
Finally, after the City of Albuquerque acquired four of the five buildings through legal maneuvering, a Request for Proposal for the renovation of the old AHS became a reality. The City finally awarded a contract for the renovation of our beloved high school to Paradigm Group. The first phase of the renovation, which included loft apartments in the Main and Administration Buildings, was completed in the spring of 2002. In the fall of 2002, the Library and Gymnasium Buildings were renovated to house loft apartments and retail office space. The Manual Arts Building, which is owned by B&C Corp., was renovated into loft apartments and completed in the summer of 2010.
AHSAA Role in the Redevelopment of Old AHS
The Albuquerque High School Alumni Association had its beginning in 1994 and its first undertaking that same year: HELP SAVE OLD AHS. Rumor had it that our beloved school was soon to be razed and become a parking lot. Alumni Board Members immediately started contacting City and State leaders. With their help and the Alumni Board's perserverance, the renovation of old AHS became a reality. The AHSAA was instrumental in helping select the Paradigm Group. As a result of our role in kickstarting this project, the Paradigm Group and the City of Albuquerque involved AHSAA in various facets of the renovation.
Memories of old AHS were retained in two places: the central part of the gym floor and bleachers were converted to a meeting room for residents, and ten framed prints of some of the original AHS art collection were hung in Old Main.
The Old Albuquerque High is now known as The Lofts of Albuquerque, with a total of 234 homes in the seven buildings that were once AHS. We are very happy that our beloved AHS was renovated into one of the City's highest density neighborhoods with a vibrant and growing residential community.