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NMSU’s Breland Hall evolves over more than 60 years

Date: 06/03/2020

Built in 1956, Breland Hall, named after Rufus Galloway Breland, is home to the College of Arts and Sciences, which includes 26 departments. Originally built as men’s dormitories, Breland Hall accommodated 300 men and offered “modern” facilities such as a television and recreational lounge along with laundry facilities. Breland Hall served as a dorm for two decades before being repurposed into an academic building for the College of Arts and Sciences, which provides the core liberal arts education at NMSU. The departments for humanities and social sciences are mainly located at Breland Hall along with the offices of the dean, while other areas such as astronomy, biology, geology, chemistry and biochemistry are housed in separate facilities on campus with both classrooms and laboratories.

Head and shoulders of a man
Rufus Galloway Breland taught English literature at NMSU and served as department head until his death in 1940. In February 1956, the Board of Regents voted to name the new men’s dormitory in his honor.
Man wearing a suit
Photo of Breland Hall from NMSU's 1960 yearbook when it was the new men’s residence hall. (Courtesy Photo)
building in color
Breland Hall in 2020. (NMSU Photo by Josh Bachman)

About Rufus Galloway Breland

Rufus Galloway Breland was born in Maryland in December 1906. Breland came to NMSU in 1925 as an English professor. He taught English literature, public speaking, and vocabulary. Although he was a strict professor, he was beloved by his students. After teaching for four years, he served as department head until his death in 1940. In February 1956, the Board of Regents voted to name the new men’s dormitory in honor of Rufus Breland. The dormitory was officially dedicated during homecoming in 1958 when Breland’s brother from New York City could be there for the ceremony.

Architectural History

Breland Hall was part of the new wave of architecture after the university outgrew architect Henry C. Trost’s master plan that was developed in 1907 for thirteen buildings positioned around "The Horseshoe." His plan was followed faithfully until the growth of the school and its programs required expansion beyond the horseshoe.

The architectural style adopted by Trost and McGhee was still utilized to some degree by other architects following World War II and well into the 1950s. Breland Hall was one of the buildings that included Trost’s “Spanish Renaissance” style that featured hipped roofs with clay tiles and domed towers.

Santa Fe architect Leo J. Wolgamood worked as a draftsman under many renowned architects around the world and served in the Civil Engineer Corps of the U.S. Navy before becoming a registered architect in New Mexico where he formed a partnership with Alfred R. Millington in Santa Fe.

In the mid-1950s, Wolgamood designed several school buildings across New Mexico. At NMSU, Wolgamood designed Breland Hall, along with Gardiner Hall and the Chemistry Building. His buildings reflected the trend toward Regional Modernism by incorporating Modernist styling, such as large glass curtain walls at the main entries, with touches of “Spanish Renaissance Revival” styling, such as red tile roofing, that emulated the work of previous architects Trost and Percey McGhee.

In October of 1952, the Board of Regents applied for $1 million in loan assistance for the construction of Breland Hall and Hamiel Hall. Construction began in 1954 and Breland Hall was completed by September 1, 1956 at a cost of $705,666.

Renovations over the years

Breland Hall has undergone several renovations and improvements over more than 60 years. The most significant project was in 1976 when the facility was remodeled, changing its use from a dormitory to accommodate the College of Arts and Sciences’ offices, classrooms, and laboratories. The renovation cost $1.9 million.



NMSU History Archives