The Las Vegas Municipal Building was constructed during 1939-40 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. As state agencies grew to comply with New Deal program requirements, the city needed more office space. It became apparent to civic leaders that Las Vegas required a new public building. In the spring of 1938, voters passed five bond issues. One was for $7,500 “for the construction of a public building to be occupied by the offices and departments of the City of Las Vegas.”
Following the bond election, the city council hired the Santa Fe architectural firm of Kruger & Clark to prepare building plans. The design, with elements of the Spanish Pueblo Revival style, characterized the majority of New Deal-sponsored public construction in New Mexico. The architects substituted locally quarried stone for the more common adobe bricks and stucco. This choice may have reflected the designers’ appreciation of the widespread use of stone throughout San Miguel County.
By the spring of 1939, construction was underway. As with most WPA projects intended to provide work for the unemployed, the majority of the federal monies were designated for payroll. Masons, stone-dressers, and powder experts were included among the skilled workers. The project budgeted $25,000 for quarrying and cutting stone.
The city contracted with landscape architect Gordon Byrne to “landscape and beautify the grounds.” The mature Siberian elms on the property suggest landscape practices associated with other WPA park projects. Some furnishings in the Museum, originally housed at the Chamber of Commerce, were made by young men enrolled in a National Youth Administration (NYA) workshop. The NYA, another New Deal program, was located in the Veeder Building on the Las Vegas plaza. Using traditional furniture-making techniques, the young men fashioned chairs and tables using wood pegs instead of nails.
Using local materials and regional architectural details, workers on relief rolls completed the building and landscaped the property. The result was the only Spanish Pueblo Revival style building completed in the city under the New Deal programs. In 1965, the building was remodeled to house the city’s museum alongside municipal offices, military recruiters, the Chamber of Commerce and, more recently, the municipal court.