The Whittlesey House
The Log Cabin in the Desert
The Whittlesey house is set atop a hill just a block from Central Ave, as you pass the renewed Hotel Parq Central a log cabin fills the horizon. The home is bordered by a park, a quaint old neighbourhood, in view of the Presbyterian hospital, and the reaching skyscrapers of downtown Albuquerque.
The Whittlesey House is an odd gem amongst the Victorian homes, adobe buildings, and the white plastered Greek Orthodox Church. The setting is strange especially after seeing historic photographs of the building sitting on its hill isolated from the outside world, it feels like you have been taken back in time.
Unfortunately, when I visited the house there were a few homeless people asleep in the park, which is not surprising considering the proximity to Central Ave. 1 The street has become a home to the homeless and panhandlers that have been displaced by the Albuquerque ART project. ART is a fiscal effort to revitalize Albuquerque’s downtown region. It has done this by the way of building new shops, apartments, and a dedicated buss lane, yet the beautiful historic buildings that give the city so much character have remained.
This home was built by and belonged to architect Charles Frederick Whittlesey who was originally from Illinois, and made his way out west in 1900. After arriving he constructed the house in 1903 for his family. Whittlesey also built the Alvarado hotel in Albuquerque along with the Santa Fe Railway hotel and El Tovar at the Grand Canyon.
He was also known as a pioneer in the use of reinforced concrete. His home on the mesa edge is similar in materials and design to another Santa Fe Railway hotel, El Tovar at the Grand Canyon. El Tovar was designed by Whittlesey in the same year he built this house. The buildings share log-cut walls, Norwegian style cutout railings edging wide verandas, recessed window seats, low-pitch roofs with exposed log fronting, rough log-cut facades and a wide porch, which surrounds its eastern rooms, characterize the house. 2
The Albuquerque Press Club
The house did have several owners after Whittlesey moved on and is now home to the Albuquerque Press Club. The Press Club only recently opened its doors to member of the public, thus dissipating some of the mystery of this log cabin in the desert. Under the ownership of the APC many upgrades have been made to the property to ensure its safety for any guests that come through the door, but they have taken care to keep its historic charm. These renovations include: new NW porch foundations, evaporative cooling, new front room ceiling, and a new roof to name a few things. The APC has taken very good care of this log cabin in the desert and it looks very majestic today as it sits overlooking the everchanging Albuquerque city scape.
The APC has been member-owned and member-operated since 1965. They are a private club, a disparate community of individuals with a common purpose. They believe that service to this community enriches us all in many ways. They offer a non-threatening social venue providing opportunities to our members as varied as our membership. One might find card or table games, discussion groups, music groups, and professional development groups operating on their own within our organization.
They offer opportunities to produce or participate in a wide variety of social activities. These social activities include art exhibits, mayoral debates, and live music. At the time of writing this The APC has a gallery of night time photographs from around New Mexico. A quick browse of the Events section of the clubs website will provide an interesting evening of art and drinks at the full bar within the house. 3