Old Town Albuquerque History
Old Town Albuquerque is the birthplace of the city, founded in 1706 by a procession of Spanish settlers from Bernalillo, the older village to the north. Its compact area and narrow streets allow the imagination to envision the original settlement, and the blend of residents, businesses, San Felipe de Neri Church, and the school keeps the feeling of a small close-knit community.
The church has always been an important part of our community. The location of the original church was a bit farther west from its present location, and after a number of fires and floods which destroyed the building on that site, the present-day church was built on the north side of Old Town Plaza in 1793. Mass is still held daily, and some masses are conducted in Spanish as well as in English.
La Villa de Alburquerque continued to grow slowly and prosper. When the railroad came in 1881, the track was laid on higher, more stable land to the east. Our Franz Huning Room is named for the entrepreneur who was instrumental in persuading the railroad to establish its major rail yard and depot in Albuquerque. That area became “New Town” (now Downtown) and La Villa de Alburquerque became “ Old Town” and has remained Old Town since then.
Many of the oldest buildings in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico are constructed of adobe bricks and stucco. The newer buildings dating from the late 1800s were structures with wooden clapboard siding on the front, typical of any western town of the time. However, early visitors came by train and expected the buildings here to look like the pueblos, so in the 1920s and ’30s, most of the structures in Old Town underwent the Pueblo Revival movement, being remodeled to add portals, vigas, and stucco. The Pueblo Revival Style was created by Edward Buxton Cristy, the architect who designed the Bottger Mansion. Look carefully and you will see Victorian buildings behind or inside La Hacienda Restaurant (the mansard roof was removed), the Covered Wagon (Queen Anne house complete with a turret behind the facade), and La Placita Restaurant. Romero House has been remodeled into shops on the inside. The Bottger Mansion is the only one of four Victorian-era mansions in Old Town to remain virtually in its original form.