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Tale of Two Hadleys: Both NMSU's Hadley Halls named after first president

Date: 5/27/20

Built in 1953, Hadley Hall on the campus of New Mexico State University was home to several administrative units including the president's office and human resources. The building is located at the top of the "Horseshoe." Hadley Hall is named after Hiram Hadley, the first president of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

Before the current building was home to the President's Office and more, old Hadley Hall served as the administration building until from 1908 to 1953. After the college had grown decades later, the Board of Regents approved the construction of Hadley Hall's replacement. The new building was completed in 1953. The original building was demolished in 1957.

About Hiram Hadley and first years of NMSU

Hiram Hadley was one of the founders and first president of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts from 1888-1894. Hadley was born in 1833 in Clinton County, Ohio. He was a veteran educator, who had lived in several eastern states before moving to New Mexico to be closer to his son. When he arrived in Las Cruces he joined several community leaders to improve the educational facilities available at the time in Las Cruces, where there were only about 2,000 residents and one school.

In 1888, he served as the first president of Las Cruces College when the college was only one adobe building with two rooms in downtown Las Cruces. In the first year, tuition was $40 and sixty-four students were enrolled.

A year later, the 1889 the Territorial Legislature authorized the creation of a land-grant college in Las Cruces, named the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. Las Cruces College merged with the new land-grant institution and opened in January 1890 with 35 students and six faculty members. Hadley would serve as president until 1894 and would later return to serve as a professor and regent at the college. He is credited to be the father of education in New Mexico.

Architectural history of Old Hadley Hall

The original building was part of the master plan developed in 1907 by Southwest architect Henry C. Trost for thirteen buildings positioned around "The Horseshoe." The administration building was the centerpiece of Trost's plan.

The administration building housed administrative offices, several academic departments, a stage and assembly room, the library, post office and other services. Although it was built at the same time as other buildings, it was designed to stand out.

The two-story building was built with a large dome, thirty-four feet in diameter, placed over a drum containing seven windows and topped with a decorative crown. The main facade, between matching domed towers with lanterns, included an entrance set back within a large arch decorated with a shield and medallion motif under a gabled tile roof.

New Hadley Hall

As the college continued to grow, the need for a new building for administration grew along with it. In 1950, the Board of Regents approved to build a new facility. After some delays due to contracting issues, the new building was completed in 1953.

In 1957, old Hadley Hall was condemned and soon after demolished. It was estimated that over 200,000 bricks were used in the construction of the old building. After old Hadley Hall was demolished, the new building was dedicated to the first university president to continue his legacy.

Before it was torn down, old Hadley Hall was being used to house most of the College of Arts and Sciences.

By 1960, the school had grown greatly, and its name was changed by state constitutional amendment to New Mexico State University. Today, NMSU sits on a 900-acre campus and enrolls more than 14,000 students from around the world.

Murals inside Hadley Hall

The murals inside Hadley hall are among the best known of those on the NMSU campus. Kenneth Barrick was not only an influential art professor and head of the art program, but also the artist behind many legendary murals inside the walls of half a dozen major campus buildings. Barrick worked at NMSU from 1949-1984.

Completed in 1959, the murals inside Hadley Hall provide a four-part look at southern New Mexico's history and technology, including the advent of the conquistadors and the development of space technology.

Barrick approached the president at the time, Roger Corbett, for permission to create murals for the tall, blank walls inside Hadley Hall. It took Barrick a year to paint the series of four-foot by 10-foot panels at his home studio.

Barrick went on to create murals at the Corbett Center Student Union, the Chemistry Building, Guthrie Hall and more. Barrick, who died in 2007, was instrumental in bringing art to the then small community of Las Cruces.

NMSU History Archives