History of Nob Hill
The popular Nob Hill area of Albuquerque, with its Route 66 connections, historic homes and businesses, and bright neon lights, was first developed in the mid-1920s. The commercial strip began to develop in the 1930s at Central and Carlisle. In 1937, Central was designated as U.S. Route 66.
In addition to eclectic shops, pubs, and restaurants along Central Avenue (Route 66), Nob Hill consists of six early 20th-century residential subdivisions developed between 1916 and 1945.
The Nob Hill District was listed in the New Mexico Register in 1998 and in the National Register in 2001. Also, three Nob Hill subdivisions were added to the New Mexico and National Historic Registers: University Heights Addition, platted in 1906, and the Monte Vista Addition and College View, platted in 1926.
Historic Commercial Strip
Jones Motor Company and Texaco
Jones Motor Company and Texaco sits at 3222 Central Ave. SE and dates to 1939. The bold Art Moderne building was designed by architect Tom Danahy to serve as a filling station and car dealership for Ralph Jones. In 1993, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it houses an Italian chain restaurant.
In its day, this was the most modern service station in the West. The Art Moderne design employed curved contours, white walls, multipaned and large plate glass windows, and geometric lines. The building was boldly situated on the diagonal on the corner.
Nob Hill Conoco
Nob Hill Conoco service station, 3601 Central Ave NE, dates to 1939, shortly after Route 66 was aligned along Central Avenue. This building featured a curved corner service bay, a geometric stepped canopy over three gas pumps, and its name in a modern font on the parapet. Today it houses a veterinary clinic with a modern neon sign.
Swayze’s Dinner Bell Café/ Circle K Motor Court
Swayze’s Dinner Bell Café/ Circle K Motor Court at 4223 Central Ave. NE was purchased by H. H. Swayze in 1942. A postcard from the time said it “Offered motorists Albuquerque’s finest meals.” Later it became the Circle K, which was a motor court with two lines of rooms facing each other. The building now contains private apartments.
Nob Hill Business Center
Nob Hill Business Center at 113 Carlisle Blvd. SE and Central Ave. was built in 1946 – 47 and was Albuquerque’s first modern shopping center. Located along Route 66, the shopping center was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Today, the center houses restaurants, specialty shops, and services.
This drive-in shopping center was organized in a U-shaped layout with an interior parking lot facing Central Avenue. The shopping center provided spaces for separately owned businesses with on-site parking in an architecturally unified building. The new shopping center garnered tenants such as Stomberg’s Men’s Clothing and Rhodes Supermarket.
Louis Hesselden, the shopping center’s architect, designed the center in the Moderne style, featuring white stucco walls, architectural neon, decorative brick courses, bands of terra cotta tile, and large expanses of plate glass display windows. Two pairs of decorative towers rise from the four corners.
Hendren Building at 3001 Monte Vista Blvd NE was built in 1946. It is one of the city’s most notable examples of Streamline Moderne architecture. The building was one of the last completed works by architect T. Charles Gaastra. It was added to the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties in 1999 and the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
The Hendren Building was constructed by J.L. Hendren, a local grocery store owner who saw the potential for commercial development in the growing Nob Hill area. The initial tenants of the building included a pharmacy, an electrical supply company, a luggage shop, and doctors’ offices.
The Hendren Building is a one-story, flat-roofed commercial block located on the corner formed by Dartmouth Drive and Monte Vista Boulevard. The V-shaped building extends along both streets, containing several small commercial spaces. The building’s strongly horizontal lines and rounded corner entrance are typical of the Streamline Moderne architectural style. The exterior was originally faced with pink stone and black Carrara glass, which was removed in the early 2000s. Large block letters above the roof line spell the name of the building.
The Toddle House
Toddle House at 3718 Central Ave. SE, home to one of the first fast-food chains, dates to the early 1950s. The Toddle House chain at one time had 200 restaurants in almost 90 cities. In 1962 it was acquired by a competitor and eventually liquidated.
The Toddle House is a brick cottage-styled building with a blue gable roof. The interior featured a central stainless-steel counter and stools, but no tables. It continues as a restaurant today.
Nob Hill Historic Homes
Nob Hills has six subdivisions, three of which are on the state and national historic registers. Here, architecture buffs can find a variety of architectural styles including Spanish and Mission Revival, Pueblo Revival, Territorial Revival, Streamline Moderne, Art Moderne, and Midcentury Modern. These private homes are not open to the public but can be viewed from the street.
There are numerous self-guided walking tour sites available, including Walk #5 from the Gentle Art of Wandering, which provides directions for a loop that includes D.K.B. Sellers’ Log Cabin (1927), Tank House (1937), and several Bart Prince Spaceship Houses, along with additional homes and businesses.