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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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University preservation plan to be presented for public comment, suggestions

New Mexico State University is more than 120 years old and covers more than 900 acres, so naturally the school is awash in history. Now an effort is under way to make sure that history is preserved and protected, and the public is being asked to participate in the process.

NMSU's Heritage Preservation Plan identifies four historic districts with contributing buildings and structures on the Las Cruces campus. (Image courtesy NMSU)

The university's Historic Preservation Plan Committee's final draft of its Heritage Preservation Plan, and the accompanying process statement, is available to the public via the NMSU website, at http://www.ofs.nmsu.edu/PreservationPlan/PreservationPlan.html. On Monday, Nov. 1, NMSU will host a public meeting from 7-9 p.m. in the Commons Room of the Conroy Honors Center to present the draft plan.

Greg Walke, assistant university architect and assistant director for project design in the university's Office of Facilities and Services, also will man an information table and offer a brief presentation on the plan from 1-3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, with the hopes of gathering additional input from alumni visiting for Homecoming, as well as students, faculty and staff. That presentation will take place in the Corbett Center Student Union's Rio Grande Room.

Those unable to attend either event will be able to send comments on the plan via e-mail to Walke at walke@nmsu.edu.

"This is an important step in preserving our campus' historic structures, and we are really depending on participation from our university community and fellow New Mexicans," Walke said. "As the state's land-grant institution, we belong to the people of New Mexico, and our goal is to adequately preserve our campus heritage for everyone for years to come."

The roots of the Historic Preservation Plan go back to 2005, when The Getty Foundation awarded NMSU a $175,000 Campus Heritage grant - one of the largest grants bestowed on a university from the foundation. The purpose of the grant was to support a comprehensive survey of historic buildings and landscapes throughout the campus, and to develop historic preservation policies and guidelines to direct future conservation work and maintenance activities of these properties.

New Mexico State University has a distinguished architectural history, centering on the works of well-known regional architect Henry C. Trost. Trost's influence on campus design and planning is still in evidence today, more than 100 years after initial implementation. Subsequent campus building styles have reflected updates on the architect's original ideas, which have in turn been influenced by more modern designs, though still regionally inspired.

"Overall the university has done a good job of maintaining its campus heritage, as reflected in its number of historic buildings," Walke said. "This is especially impressive given NMSU's tremendous growth over the last 50 years in particular. The Heritage Preservation Plan will be a key asset in planning for our future continued growth."

The Heritage Preservation Plan identifies four historic districts with contributing buildings and structures: the Academic Historic District; the West Side Farm Historic District; the Animal Sciences Historic District; and the Sutherland-Tom Fort Historic District. The districts and the properties therein meet criteria set forth for the National Register of Historic Places and are thus included or eligible for inclusion in the National Register. The plan also identifies Heritage Conservation Places that do not meet the National Register's standards, but nevertheless contribute to NMSU's overall sense of place.