Sunday, January 8, 2023

Historic Fuller Lodge

Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos, NM
Image by Martha Hutchens

Some buildings have seen more history than others. 

Immediately, you might think of Independence Hall in Philadelphia or the Tower of London. But the building I am thinking of was a lot more recent.

Fuller Lodge was built in 1928, as part of the Los Alamos Ranch School.

At this time, many people were coming to New Mexico hoping the dry climate would cure various lung ailments. In the crowded east coast, coal was the main fuel for heating and cooking. The smoke could aggravate many breathing conditions. Boarding schools in the west became popular for upper class children, particularly because the schools advertised that they could teach children self-reliance in the American west.

Teddy Roosevelt
Image from Deposit Photos

Ashely Pond, Jr. moved to New Mexico prior to 1900 after contracting typhoid as a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War. He realized his dream of founding a ranch school in 1917. This school incorporated an outdoor, vigorous lifestyle along with rigorous academic standards.
Fuller Lodge
Image by Martha Hutchens

In 1928, Philo C. Fuller paid for the construction of the Lodge in memory of his son, who had been an instructor there. A Santa Fe architect, John Gaw Meem designed the structure. He and the ranch school director, A. J. Connell, personally selected the 771 pine trees that provided the logs for the building.

Column at Fuller Lodge
Image by Martha Hutchens
During the ranch school days, the open two story dining hall saw many discussions of academic subjects while the students and teacher ate together. The mezzanine rooms housed guests and some of the staff. While the school only operated for 26 years and never had more than 47 students, its graduates included John Crosby (founded the Santa Fe Opera), Roy Chapin (CEO of American Motors), John Shedd Reed (president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad), Gore Vidal (author), Edward T. Hall (anthropologist), Arthur Wood (president of Sears Roebuck), and Stirling Colgate (nuclear physicist.)

Two-story dining hall from above
Image by Martha Hutchens
While Fuller Lodge saw its share of boys who would grow to shape history during the ranch school days, its role in history would be cemented during World War II.

On January 28, 1943, the Ranch School held its final graduation ceremony. In February, the Army Corps of Engineers began building what would become Los Alamos National Laboratory.

During the Manhattan Project, Fuller Lodge was the center of town activity. The original dining hall was used as a restaurant and for many social activities such as skits and square dances. The upstairs rooms housed visiting scientists. Boys climbed onto the roof to ring the meal bell.

Upstairs room as it was during the Ranch School
Image by Martha Hutchens
But one event crystalizes Fuller Lodge to me. It was here that five scientists sat at one meal, each of which had or would win a Nobel Prize.

Even today, Fuller Lodge is the heart of Los Alamos. It hosts musical events, history lectures, science discussions and many other things. In the late 1940’s, two wings were added to the structure. They now house an art gallery and the Los Alamos Historical Society. And on Christmas Eve in 2020, the bell over Fuller Lodge rang as part of a world-wide event to bring people together while still social distancing. So far as I know, it was the first time the bell had rung since the end of WWII, except for pranks by the boys in town.

Martha Hutchens is a transplanted southerner who lives in Los Alamos, NM where she is surrounded by history so unbelievable it can only be true. She won the 2019 Golden Heart for Romance with Religious and Spiritual Elements. A former analytical chemist and retired homeschool mom, Martha is frequently found working on her latest knitting project when she isn’t writing.

Martha’s current novella is set in southeast Missouri during World War II. It is free to her newsletter subscribers. You can subscribe to my newsletter at my website,

After saving for years, Dot Finley's brother finally paid a down payment for his own land—only to be drafted into World War II. Now it is up to her to ensure that he doesn't lose his dream while fighting for everyone else's. No one is likely to help a sharecropper's family.

Nate Armstrong has all the land he can manage, especially if he wants any time to spend with his four-year-old daughter. Still, he can't stand by and watch the Finley family lose their dream. Especially after he learns that the banker's nephew has arranged to have their loan called.

Necessity forces them to work together. Can love grow along with crops?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today, and Happy New Year! I appreciate finding out about these places that I will never have an opportunity to see. I'm an armchair traveler for sure, and this blog helps carry me away many days.