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New Mexico Sanatoriums Architectural Drawings and Plans Collection

Identifier: SWA-Sanatoriums

Scope and Content

Sunmount: This portion of the collection contains seven architectural drawings on paper of the Sunmount Sanatorium in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dated 1914, this collection consists of site plans, floor plans, elevations, sections and details. Several drawings are hand colored.

Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium: This portion of the collection, dated 1932, contains four (fragile) architectural blueprints on paper and seventeen blueprints on cloth of the Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium and the Maytag Residential Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Floor plans, elevations, sections and details are included in this collection by two sets of architects: T.A. Berlin and Percy W. Swern in association with Edward B. Cristy and Sutton and Routt.

Albuquerque Sanatorium: This portion of the collection, dated 1932, contains four architectural blueprints on paper. References to Art Deco style are clear throughout these drawings. Included in this collection are south, north and west elevations of the Albuquerque Indian Hospital.


  • 1914-1932

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.

Background Information

Offering sunny weather and specialized medical care, New Mexico sanatoriums became a draw for “healthseekers" with tuberculosis. New Mexico provided desirable factors for the cure of tuberculosis, as far as climate was concerned, with an abundance of sunshine, dry air and a moderate temperature. From the turn-of the-century through the 1930s, serving the medical needs of patients suffering with tuberculosis, also known as “consumption" or the “White Plague," sanatoriums became a big industry in the State of New Mexico. With railroad travel now in reach of the middle class, these sanatoriums were accessible to patients from across the country.

Sunmount Sanatorium

This collection includes drawings by two architecture firms: I.H. Rapp & W.M. Rapp and I.H. Rapp, W.M Rapp and A.C. Hendrickson, who created designs for the Sunmount Sanatorium in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Under the direction of Dr. Frank E. Mera, Sunmount Sanatorium started out as a tent city in 1903, catering to the needs of easterners suffering from tuberculosis and other ailments. In 1914, as demand for services grew, Dr. Mera commissioned the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp and later Rapp, Rapp & Hendrickson to design a substantial hospital building and related supporting structures to replace his tent city. As such, Sunmount became the first private sanatorium in Santa Fe.

The original adobe building of Sunmount Sanatorium, designed by Rapp and Rapp, is modeled after the local indigenous style containing both Spanish and Pueblo Indian elements. Details include heavy wooden doors, ornately carved handrails, vigas and floor plans featuring outdoor sleeping porches. Individual rooms included sleeping porches to replicate the open-air feeling of Dr. Mera’s previous tents and to ensure that patients received plenty of fresh air, even in winter. Beliefs of the time dictated that around-the-clock fresh air and a high, dry climate were instrumental in treating tuberculosis. When built, Sunmount Sanatorium, named after a nearby hill, was situated on the outskirts of Santa Fe, offering uninterrupted views of the mountains.

Around the time of the construction of Sunmount, the impetus for Santa Fe, New Mexico to establish a coherent architectural style directed toward enlightening local culture and generating tourism, created recognition for Rapp & Rapp. Particularly, Isaac Hamilton Rapp’s research of native pueblos and Spanish colonial mission churches resulted in designs which revived the regional vernacular architecture. His efforts gained him status as a pioneer architect for the ‘Santa Fe Style’, or more appropriately the Spanish Pueblo Style. Among Rapp & Rapp’s other prominent Santa Fe buildings are the New Mexico Museum of Fine Art and the La Fonda Hotel.

Sunmount Sanatorium attracted many artists and writers. Some remained in Santa Fe after receiving care for tuberculosis, such as Alice Corbin Henderson and architect John Gaw Meem, both proponents of the “Santa Fe Style" form of architecture. In 1924, Meem used a spare building at Sunmount Sanitorium as a studio, where he oversaw the remodeling of the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. Often, the homey atmosphere of the sanatorium provided a perfect setting for weekly salons, where Corbin’s husband, painter, architect and furniture designer William Penhallow Henderson and others gathered. Many settled in Santa Fe and helped to establish the Santa Fe Art Colony. Among these notables are artists John Sloan and Randall Davey.

Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium and Maytag Residential Laboratory

In 1903 Reverend Hugh A. Cooper, came to Albuquerque to improve his health and became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. Concerned with the large number of tuberculosis patients in the city, he decided that Presbyterians must address the need of patients who could not afford to pay. To this end, Cooper began a one–man crusade. And in 1908, he raised enough money to found the Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium. By 1909, tuberculosis had become the leading cause of death in the United States. The Southwestern Presbyterian building was erected in Albuquerque in 1911. It was built to provide care for patients suffering from tuberculosis. Not surprisingly, demand for health care facilities was high. Albuquerque was a popular destination due to the curative powers of “desert air and year-round sunshine." The Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium began as a five-room house on Elm Street, one of the few homes on the dirt road to University of New Mexico. Patients spent $40 a month for care, room and board. These “healthseekers" provided a significant economic boost to Albuquerque, and they also became prominent leaders and citizens in Albuquerque. By the early 1940s, the advent of new drugs and new surgical techniques diminished the threat of tuberculosis. At this point, Presbyterian Hospital turned its attention to the general health needs of the community. For almost four decades, it was “home" as well as hospital for thousands of patients in search of a cure. In 1967, the main sanatorium building was torn down to make way for construction of new surgical and emergency facilities near Central Avenue

In 1926, architect Edward Buxton Cristy designed the Hazelton Infirmary building for the Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium, a primary support structure to the main hospital. His work with the Sanatorium continued with the Nurses Home (1929) and the Maytag Laboratory (1930). In 1932, Cristy brought in two Chicago area architects, Robert Carl Berlin (1851-1937) and Percy W. Swern (1887-1946) founders of the firm Berlin & Swern in Highland Park, Illinois. Specializing in business buildings, churches, hospitals and schools, these architects were commissioned to make additions to the main Presbyterian Sanatorium hospital building and to the Maytag Residential Laboratory, a sanatorium support structure. Architects Byron Sutton and Lester W. Routt, from the firm Sutton & Routt from Vincennes, Indiana were contracted to design the Maytag Research Laboratory for the Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium.

Albuquerque Sanatorium/Indian Hospital

Originally a sanatorium, Hans Stamm designed the Albuquerque Indian Hospital, located near the University of New Mexico Medical Center in the early1930s for the Department of the Interior, United States Indian Service, Washington, D.C. Started in 1932 and completed in 1934, the building provides an outstanding example of Pueblo Deco, a genre also illustrated by the Kimo Theater in downtown Albuquerque. The term “Pueblo Deco" refers to the regional development of the 1920s Art Deco style in Albuquerque. Loosely based on “Indian" motifs, Pueblo Deco melds geometric forms or highly stylized figures with references to Mesoamerican, Pueblo, Navajo and Plains Indian cultures. This regional style was inspired by traditional Pueblos, Spanish Mission architecture and decorative motifs derived from Navajo textiles and Pueblo pottery.

Originally designed as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, the hospital was the first Bureau of Indian Affairs building to deviate from a standard design. At the time, Stamm was the Chief of the Architectural Group at the BIA in Washington. D.C. He was instructed to consider the unique heritage and environment of the Southwest when designing this structure. The BIA was not concerned with promoting the work of an individual architect, therefore little is known about Stamm's career. In comparison to other buildings designed in Albuquerque during the 1930s, the hospital has been little altered. However, despite protests, a parking structure was added in the 1980s, which blocks the original entrance elevation. The lobby has stenciled motifs on the ceiling, a frieze, and the wall surface is covered with a textured terra cotta that resembles stone. The original building, four stories tall at the center, is symmetrical, with strong vertical lines, stepping off at each floor. The hospital’s sharp visual patterning stands in dramatic contrast to Pueblo Revival style buildings that can still be found on the University of New Mexico campus. Today, the hospital has been dramatically downsized to a clinic, providing health care to native peoples from Albuquerque and surrounding areas.


Dewitt, Susan. Historic Albuquerque Today: An Overview Survey of Historic Buildings and Districts. Albuquerque: Historic Landmarks Survey of Albuquerque, 1978.

Spidel, Jake W. Jr. Doctors of Medicine in New Mexico: A History of Health and Medical Practice, 1886-1986, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986.

Sherman, John. Santa Fe: A Pictorial History. Norfolk/Virginia Beach: Donning Company Publishers, 1983.

Simmons, Marc. Albuquerque: A Narrative History. Albuquerque: Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982.

Wilson, Chris. The Myth of Santa Fe: The Creation of a Modern Regional Tradition. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996.


1 drawer (.2 lin. ft.)

Language of Materials



The New Mexico Sanatoriums Architectural Drawings and Plans Collection contains architectural drawings for Sunmount Sanatorium (Santa Fe, NM), Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium (Albuquerque, NM), and Albuquerque Sanatorium, 1914-1932.

Related Archival Material

Nancy Tucker Pictorial Collection of Southwest Materials Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Virginia Kupferman research on Murphey Sanatorium Structure. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Processing Information

Processed: December 2007
Finding Aid of the New Mexico Sanatoriums Architectural Drawings and Plans Collection, 1914-1932
J. Sinclair
© 2007
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