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May 30

Lost But Not Forgotten

Posted on May 30, 2023 at 12:01 PM by Justin Schmidt

There is something about looking at historical buildings that triggers my imagination. Architecturally, some are very beautiful to look at while others have an aura created by long-ago people that resided there and events that took place there. Some historical structures no longer exist and can only be found in old photographs showing where they once stood. The visual echoes of such buildings still trigger the imagination and possibly some nostalgia for sure.  

City Hall is now exhibiting a portion of “The Lost Buildings of Las Cruces”, a photo collection which highlights some of the buildings that once graced our downtown. The exhibit was guest curated by local historian Chris Schurtz, and first displayed at the Branigan Cultural Center in 2013. Since then, it has been displayed at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and portions of it have migrated their way around City Hall.  

The preservation of older buildings is usually the result of someone having the foresight to recognize what is not shiny and new today, could someday be valued for the history it represents. Unfortunately, that does not always happen.  

Such was the case of the Las Cruces downtown. Developers were looking to bring a different aesthetic to main street where all was modern and new. This mindset meant that older buildings were not part of their vision. Therefore, most of the physical structures are long gone but fortunately preserved in these historic photographs. 

The black and white photos in “Lost Buildings” highlight landmark buildings transporting the viewer to a time when Las Cruces was a new and growing metropolis. The structures once stood in places that are well-known to community members today and may spark personal memories of nights out on the town, shopping trips, or the homes of friends. Visitors will see a snapshot of Las Cruces’ vibrant past. All can appreciate what once was, while enjoying our modern times. 

Black and white photograph of the Hotel Rouault in downtown Las Cruces circa 1930. 

Photo Credit: New Mexico State University, Archives and Special Collections

Hotel Rouault circa 1930 was located where the Plaza de Las Cruces stands today. The “Lost Buildings” exhibit is located on the second floor of City Hall in Suite 2300. All are welcome to visit during regular business hours.

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