New Mexico New Deal Sites November 2018 - Photo #99 - Albuquerque State Fair Grounds

Photo: 11 November 2018
New Mexico State Fairgrounds: "Everybody knows"[1] that the state fairgrounds at 300 San Pedro Drive NE in Albuquerque are a WPA project, or at least many of the buildings are, as well as much of the infrastructure, but it's not easy to find hard evidence or a list of WPA buildings. However, this one — the Palomino Barn — has a sign mounted on it marking its renovation in 2008 and noting that it is a 1938 Work Projects Administration Building.
  1. Leslie Linthicum, "New Mexico Got Hefty Federal Funds for Depression-Era Programs, Changing the State Forever", Albuquerque Journal, 30 March 2008: "[FDR's] solution [to the problems of the Great Depression] was a sweeping collection of programs known as the New Deal, which put laborers, architects, engineers, writers, painters, musicians, sculptors and actors to work. Their collective efforts changed the physical face of the nation and put food on the tables and shoes on the children of millions of Americans. The New Deal left an especially meaningful mark on New Mexico. Half of New Mexico's residents found work in New Deal programs. They built dams, roads, courthouses, schools and parks, bound books, stuffed mattresses, painted murals, taught music, built furniture ... unforgettable parts of the landscape [such as] many of the New Mexico State Fair buildings..."
  2. State Fair Here in 1938 Assured, Albuquerque Journal, May 5, 1938, p.1: "About one-third of the three-year program has been completed, [Frank] Shufflebarger [chairman of State Fair Commission] said. The race track and the grandstand, and buildings for display of livestock will be entirely completed ... The administration building, and structures for display of machinery and products other than livestock will not be completed." This suggests that some more WPA buildings might have been built before the end of the WPA in 1943, which is born out by...
  3. Kathryn A. Flynn, Public Art and Architecture in New Mexico 1933-1943, Sunstone Press (2012): "New Mexico State Fairgrounds Buildings: Wilfred Stedman designed the grandstand, paddock, track, and clubhouses as part of this WPA project. Other New Deal buildings at the fairgrounds include Fine Arts Building and the Bolack Building (Agriculture), both done in 1942. The latter building is on the State Register of Cultural Properties SRCP #1492. When built between 1936-1938, most residents felt "it was too far out to attract exhibits and visitors — it was like an outpost in the desert and the now-famous Central Avenue Gate Tower was a most useless structure," as noted in a State Fair document. Over 200 laborers laid a million or more adobes to construct the buildings including the grandstand, administration building, exhibit buildings and jockey room and moved 170,000 cubic yards of dirt for the racetrack."