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John W. McHugh Architectural Drawings and Plans

Identifier: SWA-McHugh-Drawings

Scope and Content

The John W. McHugh Architectural Drawings and Plans Collection contains architectural plans, a variety of impressive drawn perspectives and sketches, and a few photographs. Included are plans for over ninety-five custom homes and remodels. There are also a few larger housing projects like the El Castillo Retirement Residences and Family Housing Project at the Cannon AFB. Other projects include public and commercial buildings such as the Farmington Daily Times, the main post office in Los Alamos (NM), the Los Alamos Y.M.C.A; the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, the theater and conference center for New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, alterations to the Anthropology building at the University of New Mexico, and Kearny Elementary School in Santa Fe. The collection also includes plans for the recreational facilities at Monument Valley (AZ) and for Conchas Dam State Park in New Mexico. There is also a significant portion of work done for religious buildings including: St. James Episcopal Church and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taos, churches for Santa Clara and San Ildefonso Pueblos, Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Parish in Albuquerque, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Santa Fe, and St. John’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Most of the designs are rooted in Santa Fe, but project locations spread in other areas of New Mexico and a few more in Arizona. Over two hundred projects are represented in the collection giving a substantial overview of McHugh’s thirty-five years in the business and his work with various architectural firms and partners, specifically with Van Dorn Hooker and Bradley P. Kidder.


  • 1950-1980

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

John W. McHugh, originally from Springfield, Ohio, graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1941 with a Bachelors of Architecture degree. During this time, he also practiced freehand drawing and watercolor painting. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Army Air Force at the Wright Patterson AFB where he mastered in planning and architecture. He received part of his education at the American Academy at Fountainbleau in France for one summer in 1951 and completed one semester of City Planning at Harvard University. Throughout his life, he was always sketching in various mediums. Besides his architecture plans, McHugh is known for his sketch books that capture the overall feeling of a place rather than specific details. This same style of light and shadows is evident in his architectural perspectives.

In 1946, he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he initially worked in John Gaw Meem’s architectural firm as a senior draftsman. McHugh then opened his first private practice with Van Dorn Hooker in 1955. After collaborations in 1956 and 1957 with Bradley P. Kidder and Associates, the two firms joined together to form one organization. McHugh headed the Architectural Design and Program Analysis department, Hooker headed the Design Coordination and Drawing Production department, and Kidder was in charge of the Office Management, Specifications and Supervision department. McHugh continued working in this private practice from 1955 through 1989 alongside other notable architects including James A. Burran, George Wright, Robert E. Plettenberg, and Wayne Lloyd.

In 1963, McHugh served as President of the New Mexico Chapter for the American Institute of Architects. From 1966 to 1969 he served as Chairman on the Arts and Humanities Commission of the Federation of Rocky Mountain States, the New Mexico Arts Commission, and the Western Council of the National Council of Architectural Registration. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1981, a lifetime honor that acknowledges the achievements of the individual as well as the outstanding contributions made to the profession. At this time he also served on the Architectural Advisory Committee, an urban policy board for the city of Santa Fe. In 1987 he suffered a serious stroke and had to relearn how to walk, talk, and read. His wife of 32 years, Gillian McHugh, assisted him in this task. After retiring from architecture, he devoted the rest of his years to oil and water color painting, an activity he had enjoyed since his youth.

McHugh is best known for his contributions to the architecture in Santa Fe and the surrounding area, though he also completed major products in Arizona. He designed the landmark structures such as the Santa Fe Opera, the Maxwell Museum of Art in Albuquerque, St. James Episcopal Church in Taos and the Palace Court Building in Santa Fe. Best known for the Santa Fe Opera Theater, McHugh originally designed the outdoor theater in 1955 and redesigned it in the 1960s. In 1965, he remodeled parts of the pavilion in order to accommodate the weather while still maintaining the openness of the original structure. Then, in 1967, the theater was completely destroyed by a fire. McHugh was asked to design its replacement, which expanded and reflected the original plans. He also designed commercial buildings, several private residences, churches, and community spaces. Some of the notable religious buildings include St. James Episcopal in Taos, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Sumner, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Taos, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Santa Fe.

McHugh worked with many partners and associated firm names varied through time. Noteworthy firms include: McHugh & Hooker; McHugh & Associates; McHugh & Hooker partnering with Kidder & Associates on a number of projects; McHugh, Kidder, Burran & Wright; McHugh, Kidder & Plettenberg; John W. McHugh; Bradley P. Kidder; McHugh, Grenfell & Associates; McHugh & Kidder; James C. Garvey.


13 Drawers (3.25 cu. ft.)


The John W. McHugh Architectural Drawings and Plans Collection includes architectural drawings, plans and perspectives by John McHugh and several architects he was associated with, such as Van Dorn Hooker and Bradley P. Kidder. It includes multiple custom residences, commercial offices, recreational spaces, university facilities, and religious buildings in New Mexico and Arizona. Notable projects include the Soccoro Theater and Conference Center, the churches for San Ildefonso and Santa Clara Pueblos, and the recreational facilities at Monument Valley, Arizona.

Related Material

John McHugh Vertical File, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.
Finding Aid of the John W. McHugh Architectural Drawings and Plans, 1950-1980
© 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131