LAS CRUCES >> A group working to preserve old buildings designed decades ago by the Southwest architectural firm Trost & Trost has made another discovery: The now-closed Las Cruces Country Club clubhouse is one such historic structure.
Several exterior changes to the building since 1929 have hidden elements of the Trosts’ signature Pueblo-revival style. Plus, it wasn’t as easily recognizable because the building’s most-interesting side points south and not toward the parking lot that had served as the main country club entrance in more recent years.
“A lot of us have been at the country club over the years and have never noticed it,” said Eric Liefeld, president of Mesilla Valley Preservation Inc. “This was a big surprise to us. I think it’s going to be a surprise to a lot of people.”
Courtesy photo Eric Liefeld, president of Mesilla Valley Preservation Inc., tracked down this old postcard on Ebay, mailed in 1930, that features the Las Cruces Country Club clubhouse, reflecting the Trosts’ signature Pueblo-revival style.
The building will be featured in a yearly historic buildings tour that’s slated for Saturday.
The El Paso-based Trost & Trost designed hundreds of buildings across the Southwest in the early part of the 1900s. Information about the company’s presence in other cities was better-preserved, Liefeld said.
But in Las Cruces, where Trost & Trost was clearly active, there are gaps in the knowledge, Liefeld said.
“A lot of our buildings have ended up being unattributed,” he said.
One of Mesilla Valley Preservation Inc.’s main goals has been to uncover documentation verifying buildings as Trost-designed.
With the ex-Las Cruces Country Club building, a full set of architectural plans was found in an El Paso library, which has a number of Trost documents, Liefeld said.
On Ebay, Liefeld tracked down an old postcard, mailed in 1930, that features the Las Cruces Country Club clubhouse.
Trost & Trost Architects and Engineers featured three brothers: lead architect and designer Henry C. Trost; engineer Adolphus G. Trost; and architect Gustavus A. Trost, according to the Henry C. Trost Historical Organization. Their work included schools, homes, hotels, churches and commercial structures. Several buildings at the University of Texas at El Paso were designed by the Trost firm.
The former Las Cruces Country Club building and surrounding 110-acre parcel were conditionally purchased in 2012 by Park Ridge Properties LLLP, which plans to build homes, a retail area and a hospital on the site. Details of the $7.1 million sale were finalized in late January this year.
After finding evidence of the Trost design, Liefeld said his group approached Park Ridge Properties with the news. He said the developers’ reaction was “very encouraging.”
“They recognized this as an interesting piece of architecture and an interesting piece of history for the community,” he said. In their plans so far, “they’re actually making it somewhat of a focal point.”
Bob Pofahl, managing partner in Park Ridge Properties, said the company was excited to learn about the Trost & Trost origins of the clubhouse.
“With architectural treasures like this, too many of them have been torn down,” he said. “I’ve restored other historic buildings in El Paso and have followed Trost. We were pleased to find out it was a Henry Trost building.”
A 34-acre portion of the former country club already has been rezoned to house a medical facility. The historic clubhouse sits on a sliver of the remaining 76 acres, a portion for which developers are planning to seek a re-zoning.
Because of the Trost involvement and decades of memories made at the clubhouse, Park Ridge Properties wants to preserve the structure and its history, Pofahl said.
“It’s going to be in the retail area,” he said. “We’re not sure it will be a restaurant or a community building. We want to get it back to its original glory.”
That’s likely to entail removing some of the construction that’s been added over the years.
The clubhouse architecture may also serve as a theme for other buildings on the site, Pofahl said.
Liefeld said the project is good way to preserve the clubhouse because unoccupied structures are the ones that tend to degrade faster.
In April 2013, Mesilla Valley Preservation Inc. announced it had found evidence that the former Mesilla Park Elementary School — now the Frank O’Brien Papen Community Center — was a Trost structure. It’s planning dated back to 1907. Also, another school, the former Mesilla Elementary School, was revealed to be of Trost origins. That building serves as the town of Mesilla community center.
Historic homes tour
The clubhouse is one of six properties that will be featured in the yearly Casas de Antaño 2014 buildings tour on Saturday. Participants show up at any of the sites, buy a $15 ticket and are given an overview of the historic structures. The ticket is good for touring the other properties Saturday in any order, as well, Liefeld said.
It runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For information, visit www.mvpres.org.
Diana Alba Soular may be reached at 575-541-5443.