Fuller Lodge, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, was constructed as a memorial to Edward P.
Ranch School staff member who died in 1923. His father, wealthy Michigan
Lumberman Philo C. Fuller, paid for the construction of the Lodge and donated it to
the Ranch School. Built in 1928, the Lodge was designed by Santa Fe architect John
Gaw Meem, who, along with Ranch School Director A.J. Connell, personally selected
the 771 massive pine trees used in the predominantly vertical-log structure.
Meem designed the hanging lanterns that are still seen in the Lodge, incorporating the Ranch School logo designed by famous woodcut artist Gustave Baumann. The Lodge housed the school dining hall, kitchen, rooms for guests, staff, and the nurse. It was also where social events for the boys and many graduation ceremonies were held.
The main interior feature of the ground floor was a two-story dining hall. The 19-foot ceiling, highlighted by exposed, non-structural trusses, became a Meem trademark. Because of the two-story dining hall, the second story of Fuller Lodge provided more of a mezzanine than a "floor" which was lined with nine rooms and decorated with Navajo rugs. On the mezzanine level, Connell included a small suite for the matron on the south end. Next was Headmaster Lawrence Hitchcock's suite. On the other side of the stairway leads to the third floor, a small suite served as the nurse's quarters. The infirmary sat above the main lobby at the north part of the building.
When the United States Army arrived in 1942, it used Fuller Lodge as a place for transient housing and feeding of post and technical personnel. Starting in February 1943, the Lodge was managed as a hotel by H.M. Archer as a contractor with the Corps of Engineers. The Pajarito Room served as a cafeteria, and bachelor staff members and distinguished visitors were housed in the Lodge.
The Ranch School, still being run by A.J. Connell, held its final graduation ceremony on January 28, 1943, after an abbreviated semester. The Ranch School and surrounding homesteads had been purchased by the U.S. Army Manhattan Engineer District for a secret WWII Laboratory site. During the Manhattan Project, the Lodge served as a dining and meeting hall for project staff. A number of the other Ranch School buildings were turned into housing for the leaders of the soldiers and scientists who came to work in Los Alamos. These elite homes were the only ones in wartime Los Alamos with bathtubs. Some of these are now private residences and can be viewed from Bathtub Row, the street running north from Fuller Lodge.
The role of Fuller Lodge in WWII was symbolically brought to a close when the US Army and Navy presented an Award of Excellence to Project Y participants on its eastern patio on October 16, 1945. The ceremony's date was chosen to coincide with J. Robert Oppenheimer's last day as Laboratory director.
Operations of the Los Alamos townsite and the laboratory were transferred to the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947. The commission quickly added three two-story wings extending north, south and west from Fuller Lodge so that it could function as a hotel for official visitors. Los Alamos remained a closed city until 1957 when the gats and guard towers were no longer used. This decline in secrecy began a lengthy process of transferring land and structures outside the Lab campus to private and municipal ownership. Through all these phases Fuller Lodge has continued to serve as the social center of the community, witnessing generations of weddings, funerals, parties, concerts, town meetings, and other social events.
Mon - Sat 10am - 4pm
2132 Central Avenue
Los Alamos, New Mexico