Eastern New Mexico University Celebrates 90 years since the opening of its Historic Administration Building

Administration Building Aerial Shot

Eastern New Mexico University Celebrates 90 years since the opening of its Historic Administration Building

Portales, NM – November 20, 2023- November 23, 2023, marks the 90-year anniversary of the Administration Building dedication on the Eastern New Mexico University campus.

On Thanksgiving morning, November 23, 1933, 7000 people gathered for a program to celebrate the opening of the Administration Building on the Eastern New Mexico Junior College campus with Governor A. W. Hockenhull as the guest speaker. This historic event happened six and a half years after Governor Dillon signed the bill to locate the Eastern New Mexico Normal School in Portales.

Construction originally started on the Administration building in 1930, with the cornerstone being laid for the building on Dec. 19, 1930, by the Masonic Grand Lodge of New Mexico.

Due to the Great Depression, The Administration Building sat for three years unused with no maintenance and, according to the book "The Golden Years" by former ENMU President Floyd Golden, "The Administration Building had deteriorated so badly it was a disgrace. At least half of the windows had been broken, some of the outside doors had been broken or blown off their hinges, and livestock had used the building for shelter during the winter months and as a refuge from the hot sun in the summer."

In 1933, funds from the public land dedicated to Eastern's use had generated over $57,000, which allowed the administration building to be repaired and the grand opening to be held on Nov. 23, 1933.

Since then, the ENMU Administration building has been the landmark building on the ENMU Campus. One of the trademarks of the administration building is the WPA-era murals that are present in the building.

In 1937, Eastern New Mexico Junior College applied to the Work Projects Administration for a mural to be painted in the Administration Building. Following approval of the application, a mural to represent the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes in the Holy Bible was chosen. The Work Projects Administration employed Lloyd Moylan of Albuquerque and Taos as the artist. Mr. Moylan and his assistant scaled the walls in the center of the Administration Building for five months, painting the mural. The scripture is painted on the face of the pillars on the second floor. The government officials who inspected the mural after it was finished informed ENMU officials that it was "one of the most beautiful murals in any public building in the United States."

From its humble beginnings, the ENMU administration building unique architecture echoes the strength and dedication of those who paved the way for today's ENMU students, faculty, and staff to find success—having hosted the ENMU library, having been one of the main classroom buildings for the early Eastern New Mexico Junior College, to today hosting the administrative offices for ENMU. The administration building is truly the landmark on the ENMU campus.

"Buildings such as these on university campuses tend to represent the university itself, and ours is no exception," said James Johnston, ENMU Chancellor. "Portales worked and lobbied hard to get ENMU here, and the building remains a symbol of that effort. We are honored to continue such a rich history and tradition and look forward to the celebrations in 2024."

Eastern New Mexico University is planning a 90th anniversary celebration on April 6, 2024, to celebrate our 90-year anniversary with the campus and the community. A celebration will also occur around homecoming in the fall of 2024 to celebrate with alumni. A detailed schedule of events will be launched on the ENMU website soon.

For more information on ENMU, the administration building, the artwork featured in the administration building, and the history of ENMU, visit www.enmu.edu.