The most interesting thing about historical research is that you never know whose path you will cross or whose story intersects with yours. Charles Bottger’s path crossed with that of an Albuquerque architect named Edward Buxton Cristy.
My efforts to date have been focused on the Bottger family, so I haven’t really researched Cristy yet. And I must admit that my initial search at the Special Collections Library was based on an index search, in which I misspelled his last name, based on another book I had found. Obviously, another trip is required, and I expect to find more newspaper articles about Cristy if I spell his name correctly.
Edward Buxton Cristy is not nearly as well known as another architect in Albuquerque named John Gaw Meem. However, it was Cristy who was hired by University of New Mexico president George Tight and worked with Mary Colter (of Harvey Company fame) to remodel Hodgin Hall, the original building of UNM. The remodel involved removing the peaked roof, adding multiple levels and covering the building with stucco to give it a pueblo appearance. Locals were outraged at what they perceived to be the destruction of the character of the building. However, Tight had a vision of a “pueblo on the mesa,” and several more buildings were built in the style before his dismissal in 1909. The style, so unique to the university and to New Mexico, became known as “Pueblo Revival” and was adopted years later as the official building style of the UNM campus. John Gaw Meem followed in later years and designed numerous buildings in the Albuquerque area in the Pueblo Revival style, to great acclaim, while the creators of the style, Cristy and Colter, faded into relative obscurity compared to Meem.
Other Cristy designs include his own home at 201 Walter Street SE built in 1896, a charming bungalow in the Huning’s Highland Addition (now a designated historic district), which has been carefully and lovingly restored. He also designed the W. J. Marsh House at 301 Edith Street SE built in 1892, which was one of the largest homes in Huning’s Highland Addition at the time.
Sometime during 1908 or 1909, Cristy and Bottger must have met and arranged for the design of Charles Bottger’s new home in Old Town, and it was completed in approximately 1910, when the structure appears on the Sanborn Insurance map.
In a moment of inspiration, I wondered if E. B. Cristy had any descendants, so I did a search. About 10 people with that name appear in the phone records, and at least some seem to be related to each other. My next task is to start calling to find out if they are indeed descendants of Edward Cristy and if they have any photographs of his work, of Edward Cristy, or copies of any his plans or drawings they would be willing to share.
In this 100th anniversary of the Bottger Mansion, it would be fitting to rename one of the rooms after its architect, Edward Buxton Cristy.
I’m having fun–come on along!