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Occidental Life Building

By Edith Cherry and James See – May 24, 2020

1_DSC1979 2 copy 2 JS

Previous names: New Mexico Title Building, Occidental Fire Insurance Building.

Address: 305 Gold Ave. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Access: Building tenants may have different hours.

Venetian Gothic Revival style is a rarity in the Southwest, making the Occidental Life Building in Albuquerque truly unique. The reference to the Doge’s Palace in Venice was conceived by the original owner, A.B. McMillan, who owned a similar building in Oklahoma City (demolished in 1972). The original design by Henry Trost of El Paso, Texas, had a flat roof, and a window wall with white frames that set back from the white glazed terracotta tile Gothic arches, allowing a shaded walkway.

2_03-Title-Occidental_000-119-0627 copy[11500]
Special Collections/Center for Southwest Research (UNM Libraries), 000-119-0627
A fire in April 1933 destroyed the roof and the interior of the building. Miles Brittelle designed a new upper façade with a row of glazed terracotta rectangular decorative panels and finials along the parapet to further the reference to the Doge’s Palace. He also added decorative towers at each corner.

A remodel by Hoshour & Pearson in 1983 moved the inner wall outward, using a dark anodized aluminum frame. This remodel, seeking to provide more lease space, inserted a second floor, making use of the quatrefoil (four-leafed) windows for those tenants.

Completed:  1917
Architect: Trost & Trost and George P. Hill
Contractor: seeking info*
Remodel Completed: 1934
Remodel Architect: Brittelle and Ginner
Remodel Contractor:  seeking info*
Remodel Completed: 1983
Remodel Architect:  Hoshour and Pearson
Remodel Contractor:  seeking info*

National Register of Historic Properties:  #78001805 (1978)
NM State Register of Cultural Properties:  #480 (3/1/1973)
City of Albuquerque Landmark (see website)

Learn More:  

Doge’s Palace in Venice

Henry C. Trost Historical Organization   (Occidental Life Building)

Occidental Life Building (Wikipedia)

1981    Engelbrecht, Lloyd C. and June F., Henry C. Trost:  Architect of the Southwest, El Paso Public Library Association, pages 97-99, El Paso, Texas.







2 responses to “Occidental Life Building”

  1. Kevin Glasgow Avatar
    Kevin Glasgow

    Thanks for sharing this information about this incredible Albuquerque landmark. It might be of interest to you that in the mid 1980s, ceramic artist and potter Hoyt Corbett, who was teaching ceramics ay UNM in those days, was commissioned to do restorative work on the building. He and his students restored many of the capitals, quatrefoils and finials on the building that had been damaged over time. He has written about on his website here: http://cookinclay.com/?page_id=412# and provided some great pictures of the restoration process.


    1. klh048 Avatar

      Thanks for that information.


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