NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center



Rhodes Garrett Hamiel dorm named for acclaimed western author, Pat Garrett’s daughter and a long-time secretary

Date: 05/20/2020

For what it cost to build an average middle-class home today, New Mexico State University built the first of three wings of the women’s dormitory known as Rhodes Garrett Hamiel Hall. With 65 rooms, the Board of Regents spent $150,000 to build Rhodes Hall in 1941, seeking assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The first wing of the women's dormitory was named for Rhodes in April 1941. The project ultimately completed 14 years later, would include two additional wings – Garrett and Hamiel Halls.

Black and white photo of a building
Rhodes Garrett Hamiel Dormitory in the 1960s. The first building was constructed in 1941, the second in 1942, the third wing constructed in 1955.
Head and shoulders of a man and two women
From left: Eugene Manlove Rhodes, Flora Hamiel and Elizabeth Garrett.
three photos in color of buildlings
Rhodes Garrett Hamiel Halls in the late 1990s. (NMSU photo)

About Eugene Manlove Rhodes

Eugene Manlove Rhodes was born in Nebraska in January 1869, but grew up in New Mexico, where his father was the superintendent of the Mescalero Indian Reservation. As a teenager, Rhodes was an expert horseman, he moved to California where he was a prospector and a freight hauler before returning to work on various ranches and starting his own 6,000-acre ranch in Sierra County. Rhodes married and moved to New York, where he wrote vivid accounts about his beloved New Mexico. He wrote western fiction novels and was nationally known for his Saturday Evening Post articles and his books. He is credited with inventing the phrase “Land of Enchantment.” He returned to New Mexico in 1926, where he lived in Santa Fe, then Alamogordo, then near Three Rivers.

A critically acclaimed architect of “Southwest fiction,” Rhodes is laid to rest in his favorite spot in the San Andres Mountains canyon named for him. Rhodes Canyon now lies in the heart of White Sands Missile Range. According to New Mexico Statue 21-8-27, NMSU is the custodian of Rhodes’ grave.

NMSU-Alamogordo facilitates an annual trek to Rhodes’ grave, in cooperation with White Sands Missile Range. Rhodes’ grave marker is nestled in a grove of juniper that offers shade and protection. Participants are encouraged to bring a folding chair, sack lunch, and camera. Rhodes’ grave marker is nestled in a grove of juniper that offers shade and protection. The tour guide reads from Rhodes’ work and leads a discussion. The whole experience invites reflection and reverence for Rhodes, his work, and the inspirational landscape.

About Elizabeth Garrett

Born in 1885 in Eagle Creek (near Ruidoso), Elizabeth Garrett lost her sight shortly after birth. Garrett was the third of eight children born to Pat Garrett, the well-known sheriff who killed Billy the Kid. She is also known as the composer of New Mexico’s first official state song “O’ Fair New Mexico,” in 1915.

At age six, Garrett began school at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. After graduation, she moved to El Paso where her father was a custom’s officer and taught music before moving to Las Cruces in 1905 to become a sheriff of Lincoln and Dona Ana Counties. Her talent for music began in school, where she studied piano, organ, and voice. She gave small concerts around the United States and was promoted as the "Songbird of the Southwest." She taught school at the Alamogordo School for the Blind and later served on the Board of Regents. She later developed a friendship with activist Helen Keller. Garrett died of a fall in her Roswell home in 1947. The second wing of the women's dormitory was dedicated to Garrett in 1948 after a petition from the students was presented to the Board of Regents by the Student Commission President and the Dean of Students.

About Flora Hamiel

Flora Hamiel, born in October 1902 in Muncie, Ind., was a long time executive secretary to seven presidents of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. She was married to chemistry professor Glenn R. Hamiel. After her retirement she and her husband lived in Las Cruces. He passed away in 1976 at age 87. She passed away at age 84 in 1986. Their children started a scholarship at NMSU to honor G.R. and Flora Hamiel. The Board of Trustees voted to name the third wing of the women's dormitory for Hamiel in September 1956.

About the architecture

Rhodes, Garrett Hall and Hamiel Halls are associated with the continuation of the Spanish Renaissance Revival style of architecture at the university and with the expansion of the campus on its east side during the mid-twentieth century. The three, two-story dormitories form a U-shaped plan opening westward. Built separately between 1941-55, Rhodes, Garrett Hamiel Halls were built as three two-story dormitories, planned from the beginning as a single joined unit. All feature stuccoed masonry walls and have entrances centered on each wing that serves as the architectural focal point facing onto the interior green space.

Garrett Hall features a projecting two-story front-gabled entryway in its west façade with an arched entrance at its center; it is reached by a set of concrete stairs rising from the ground level. Framing the recessed entryway is an arch with a dogtooth circular molded frame featuring a prominent keystone at its apex; above the keystone are dimensional letters spelling out “Garrett.”

Rising along the south side of Garrett Hall’s entryway and offsetting the symmetry of the south elevation of the entryway’s gable-end stands a four-story high square tower, with a small six-light casement in the west elevation of the third story and a molded cornice overhang between the third and fourth stories.

Rhodes and Hamiel, the two east-west-running axes of the complex, each have projecting two- story front-gabled entryways surmounted by a gently pitched red-clay tile roof with eaves supported by pairs of carved wooden brackets. Details of the Rhodes and Hamiel entryways echo that of Garrett, the most prominent exception being that neither has an observation tower.

Construction and renovations

The first wing of the new women’s dorm was built on a site east of the outer horseshoe road on the eastern part of campus. The Board of Regents authorized $30,000 for construction of the first wing and hired A.R. Miller part time at $100 a month to work on the women's dorm. The following month the board prepared a submission to the WPA officials to complete the project. By 1941, the first wing of the new dormitory for women was completed and furnished with Spanish Colonial furniture made on campus at a cost of $58.66. In 1949 the roof of Rhodes Hall was replaced.

In May of 1941 the board approved the signing of a supplementary WPA project at a cost of $9,601 for the completion of Unit 2 of the women’s dorm. This 30-room wing of the women’s dormitory was completed in 1942 and dedicated to

In 1941, the Board of Trustees set aside $32,000 for construction of the third wing of the women's dormitory. By 1953, the third wing was not yet built and trustees obtained loan assistance for $1 million to a 150-occupant women's dormitory and a 225-occupant men's dorm. The contract to build both Hamiel Hall and the men's dormitory was given to R.E. McKee General Contractor in El Paso for $813,040. This final wing to the women’s dorm along with the men’s 225-room men’s dorm began September 20, 1954. Both were completed in 1955.



NMSU History Archives