Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Mexico--First, Last, and Forever

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

The Franciscan Hotel opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 8, 1923. It was paid for through community project funds raised by the Albuquerque Hotel Company. The Kiwanis Club and the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce led the fund raising, which began in 1920. The fund raising took the form of selling shares or a subscription. The idea was that through the sales of small groups of shares, the huge sum of $330,000 could be raised. That's $4,761,820 by 2016 standards. The citizens were willing to contribute to the cause because they felt the growth and development of Albuquerque depended on an additional hotel. Their goal was to push Albuquerque's population to 50,000.

By 1922, there were very really fears that they would not be able to sell enough shares to make the hotel a reality. Advertisements ran urging subscribers to pay for the shares they had pledged. Many of these resorted to shaming. Additional articles and advertisements regularly appeared in the Albuquerque newspapers to keep up the excitement and promote subscription sales.

Becoming a subscriber was as easy as clipping a form from the newspaper and mailing it in. Shares were $1 apiece. Subscribers often scrawled messages on their forms.

One of the subscribers was none other than Iley N. Selph. As of January 1922, he was evidently living in Monero, New Mexico and mailed in his order for 50 shares ($715 in 2016) with the "terse explanation. 'Reason--New Mexico First, Last and Forever."

The Franciscan was built by Henry C. Trost, who earned the attention of Europeans for his efforts. The hotel's furniture, interior, stationary, and china were designed Inez B. Westlake while the brochures were created by Carl Hertzog of El Paso.

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