THE HISTORIC LEXINGTON HOTEL: 1930-2009
The Lexington Hotel was built in 1930 of local stone by Mike Butkovich. Original owners Ruth and Thomas Stockard opened the Lexington in 1931 as a refined place for travelers to stay, with pressed tin ceilings and, a few years later, large-scale frescos in the lobby by acclaimed super-realist painter Carl Von Hassler, known as the “Dean of the Albuquerque art colony,” depicting Native American and landscape scenes. The Lexington provided comfortable and tasteful accommodations to Gallup’s visitors through the 1940’s.
It’s not clear how or why things went downhill at the Lexington, over many years and the tenures of several different owners, but by 1999, the Lexington was known as a flophouse for people who needed a cheap place to “sleep off ” drunkenness. The City of Gallup was ready to condemn the hotel.
The downward trend began to change when Pat and John Rosendall bought the Lexington Hotel in 1999. They had a vision for making the Lexington a “clean, safe, and dignified place to live.” The local couple loved the classic building and felt moved to make something better of it. They began working on the renovation of the hotel and living there themselves. They based rental rates on the incomes of the residents, many of whom received social security, and some residents worked as janitors, cleaners, handymen or even assistant or night managers to help pay their rent. The Rosendalls renovated all 33 rooms, refinished floors, and replaced windows. They pulled up two tons of stained and ruined carpet. The Gallup community, friends, family, volunteer, youth groups and supporters from as far away as Boston rallied behind the Rosendalls’ efforts. They contributed everything from labor and cash to fresh flowers and ingredients for soup. The US Department of the Interior granted the Rosendalls funding through the New Mexico Route 66 Association to restore the iconic neon sign on top of the hotel, which is on the state registry of historic places.
In the 2004, the Gallup Community came together to form a non-profit organization, dedicated to “creating opportunities to end homelessness” called CARE 66. CARE 66 immediately opened a transitional shelter called the Frances Opportunity Center in an Industrial Park on the east side of Gallup. The Board of CARE 66 saw an opportunity in the Lexington Hotel to provide a more “homey” place for their transitional shelter on the ground floor of the Lexington Hotel and to continue to provide permanent housing in the 21-single room occupancy rooms on the second floor. In the spring of 2009, CARE 66 bought the hotel from the Rosendall’s who were happy to see that their efforts would be continued and expanded.
LEXINGTON HOTEL PRE-DEVELOPMENT PHASE:
CARE 66 assumed ownership and operations of the Lexington Hotel in March of 2009. It continued to provide single room occupancy for individuals in the 21 rooms on the second floor. The historic lobby and a kitchen connected to the patio remained community gathering places. In May of 2010 CARE 66 began providing case management support for residents dealing with multiple issues contributing to homelessness through funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The City of Gallup provided a grant of $250,000 for downtown development which enabled CARE 66 to carry out the pre-development activities. Through the Northwest New Mexico Council of Government (NWNMCOG) Phase I and II environmental investigations funded by EPA Region 6 assessment grants revealed the need for asbestos remediation. CARE 66 contracted with Loren Miller, a Native American and Gallup architect, for design and engineering services.
LEXINGTON HOTEL REMEDIATION AND DEMOLITION PHASE: MAY 2011 - JULY 2011
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) was a critical partner in the re-development of the Lexington Hotel. One estimate for full asbestos abatement of the Lexington Hotel was $400,000. However, NMED stepped in to assist CARE 66 in obtaining American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) sub-grant through NMED’s Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund to complete the cleanup. They also utilized Section 128(a) State Response Program funding to assess alternatives and develop a remediation plan, with community input. CARE 66 contracted with Murphy Builders, Inc., a local builder for the asbestos abatement and demolition. Murphy Builders, Inc subcontracted with Southwest Abatement, an Albuquerque based firm for the environmental work.
During remediation & abatement the boiler in the basement was replaced with a high capacity boiler housed in the new Fire Riser Room.
LEXINGTON HOTEL CONSTRUCTION PHASE:
AUGUST 2011 - JANUARY 2012
When CARE 66 first began imagining the rehabilitation of the Lexington Hotel, it was looking at a modest rehabilitation that could potentially be completed in phases. However, the addition of financial partners, including Navajo Housing Authority, created the need for CARE 66 to revise its thinking, planning and timing as it went along. As a result, the Lexington Hotel has a completely new heating and cooling system with brand new wires, pipes and ducts. Structural weaknesses created over years by amateur rehab efforts have been corrected. Although not absolutely required by code, an elevator was added to provide for accessibility to the second floor. The patio has been replaced with an attractive brick wall rather than chain fencing. Upstairs residents have their own kitchen and common area. The downstairs program is served by a brand new commercial kitchen. CARE 66 contracted with Pavilion Construction, an Oregon-based company that has an extensive presence in New Mexico to complete the construction. A certificate of occupancy was received February 2, 2012.