The Mother Road Building

Building History

The original portion of the Mother Road Hostel was built in 1905 by contractor A.L. Morgen for Darby A. Day, an Albuquerque businessman. This building was a two story, four bed room, private residence. The style was southern with large columns supporting the upstairs and downstairs porches in front and a rear porch where the communal kitchen is now. The original building was probably heated by fireplaces and wood/coal stoves. There is a high archway for carriages still visible on the west side of the building and there was probably a small stable in the rear. 

The property sold at auction in 1907 to George Arnot for $1.00 and assumption of the $4,000.00 mortgage. George was a well-to-do merchant who bought wool and sold merchandise to outlying New Mexico communities. Five children, three girls and two boys grew up in this house. 

George Arnot’s eldest married daughter, Jean Mitchell inherited the property in 1917. Jean’s husband was principal of Washington School at the time, located directly behind the building. The family moved away in 1930 after selling the building to optometrist and jeweler, S.T. Vann and then to Marie P. Stolz.  Mrs. Stolz converted the outside to Spanish colonial architecture by adding arches, balconies and stucco. The interior was divided into nine small apartments named the Colonial Arms Apartments. The small carriage house in the rear was transformed into a candy store for the Washington School students. 

Route 66 was diverted from Fourth Street to its present route along Central Avenue in 1935. More apartments were added to the rear of the building between 1931 and 1940. Mrs. Stolz lived in Apartment #3, where the office is now, and later in the rear apartment #16. The Colonial Hall Apartments were well maintained by Mrs. Stolz, and were profitable in the 40’s and 50’s when commercial activity was centered in downtown Albuquerque. 

The property was sold several times during the 1960’s during an economic downturn in Albuquerque’s downtown. It was finally set for demolition when W.W. Cox, who was interviewed for the demolition job, decided to buy the property and keep them as apartments. The neighborhood at that point was in its lowest state ever and the character of the residents, declined accordingly. There are stories of ladies of the night, desperate poets, murder/suicides and mistresses of prominent political figures all residing in this building during this time. 

Mr. Cox first leased the building as a hostel in the 1970’s. The mural on the west side of the building under the carriage arch way was painted by a hostel guest named Jon M. Disson at that time.  The building has changed hands several times during the past four plus decades, but has remained a hostel ever since. 

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