Gross, Kelly and Company Warehouse
West Manhattan Avenue
In 1913 Gross, Kelly and Company, one of the Southwest's largest wholesalers, opened a Santa Fe branch and erected this warehouse in the Santa Fe railroad yards. The building was the first commercial structure of its type in the Spanish Pueblo Revival style in New Mexico. It was one of the first buildings designed in that style by architect Isaac Hamilton Rapp and served as an important early example of the practical possibility of adapting the pre-American regional style to contemporary commercial use.
Gross, Kelly and Company had long played a major role in the commerce of the Southwest, providing a link between the railroad and the still remote regions of Colorado and New Mexico. The company had begun in 1869 at Harker, Kansas, as Otero, Sellar and Company, a forwarding and commission house that moved its warehouse from one terminal point to the next as the railroad moved across Kansas and into Colorado and New Mexico. When the railroad reached Las Vegas, New Mexico, in 1879, the company established a permanent headquarters and began to build branches in other cities. Two years later it became Gross, Blackwell and Company, and in 1902 was renamed Gross, Kelly and Company at the time Harry Warren Kelly became president.
The company served the important function of expediting the transfer of eastern manufactured goods for the raw materials of the frontier. In an economy where cash was scarce, payment was often accepted in goods, such as livestock, wool, or hides that were, in tum, sold to eastern manufacturers or held in anticipation of more favorable prices. In this way the company provided a dependable market for local products. Gross, Kelly and Company also engaged extensively in other enterprises, such as lumbering and the finishing of livestock. Among the firm's landholdings was the old Pecos Grant, which included the site of the ruined Pecos pueblo and mission church. In 1920 the company deeded about eighty acres containing these ruins to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, which was to transfer it to the School of American Research. Eventually it was deeded to the National Park Service and became the Pecos National Monument.
The Santa Fe Branch handled primarily staple groceries, patent medicines, light hardware, and farming supplies that were sold to merchants along the routes of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad north from Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Railway south to Torrance. Local products, primarily wool, hides, pelts, grain, potatoes, and beans were bought from local producers, large and small.
Rapp based the overall form and design of the warehouse, a long rectangular building with flat roof, battered walls, and comer towers, on the mission churches that the Spanish Colonial friars convinced the Pueblo Indians to build. However, instead of traditional adobe, prison brick was used and rounded contours were created with concrete.
Rapp continued to develop the possibilities of the Spanish Pueblo Revival style in Santa Fe. He returned to the Spanish missions for the building he designed to represent New Mexico at the Panama California Exposition in San Diego in 1915. He repeated this design with modifications just off the Plaza for the Museum of Fine Arts, dedicated in 1917. Other examples of his use of the style for large institutional buildings are La Fonda Hotel (1920) and two buildings for Sunmount Sanitorium (1914 and 1920).