A short stroll around the neighborhood.
– David Donaldson
I like to think of Huning Highland as a walking neighborhood and at this point in time, I’ve
established several short routes that I follow when I feel like getting out of the house for twenty
minutes or so,, or, whenever I want to give guests and visitors an overview of the neighborhood.
I live on Iron Ave, which “technically” is the southern edge of The historical district, so
sometimes I walk south— and believe me, there are some cute little houses in the South
Broadway neighborhood, but more often than not, I head north- cutting down alleys, or strolling
along Walter to Central. I don’t know why, but Central seems to be the dividing line for me,
even though I happen to like the houses along Copper, and I frequently use the library on Edith
between Central and Copper. It’s one of the neighborhood’s hidden gems.. I retreat to it quite
often with my lap-top when my twice a month, cleaning lady comes and I don’t want to be
under-foot. (Or, more accurately, struggle with my not so fluent Spanish!)
I discovered another hidden gem during one of my peripatetic meanderings back in
November 2013, when I came across the Albuquerque Press Club. It’s that quirky, wooden
structure with wrap around balconies that sits atop the hill in the neighborhood park. Of course
I’d seen the building before, but I always assumed that membership was limited to reporters or
journalists,. However on that afternoon stroll, I had no particular agenda nor was I rushed for
time, so I decided to explore the building. At first it seemed a bit intimidating. A sign clearly
reads members only.” and, after climbing the wooden stairs leading to the balcony, I confronted
a sturdy wood door with an unusual log-latch.
Once inside. I felt as if I had been transported back to the nineteenth century. I found myself
in a cavernous great-room with a raised ceiling and heavy wooden cross beams. Most
surprisingly, it appeared as if no one were there. (At least on the day I decided to venture in.)
The walls are lined with well stocked book cases. To the right I spotted a huge field-stone fireplace,
and an upright piano, and I noticed an organ on the left. I heard sounds coming from
within the building so I decided to pass through a dimly lit doorway ,and step down a short flight
of stairs. I could hardly believe my eyes: I encountered a well-stocked Irish “pub” but most
importantly, I met Seth Hall, the bar tender.
As it turns out, Seth is also on the membership committee of the Press Club, and since no
one else was around that afternoon, he explained the history of the building, as well as the
clubs membership policy. In short: the building was the home of George Whittlesby, an architect
for the Santa Fe railroad, who based his design on a Norwegian country house. More important
for the purpose of this article, Seth explained that the club is officially part of the world-wide
Press Club network, and while a certain percentage of members is associated with
newspapers, magazines, the media, and marketing, he elaborated that the Board offers
“Associate membership” for individuals who are not associated with the press, and
approximately seventy percent of overall membership falls within that category. Seth had time
to show me around the building that afternoon and he pointed out the card-room; the
comfortable lounge area that serves as the game-room; the dart-room, the billiards-room and
the expansive outside patio.
I was impressed with the quirkiness of the building; the expansive outside balconies; the cozy
atmosphere inside, and particularly, Seth’s warm-welcome. The fact that I can walk to the club
in about eight minutes, was an added feature. I made up my mind to join. Seth sponsored me
for associate membership, and after the board reviewed my application, I became an official
Press Club member. Board members later told me,that they are delighted when “local” people
join the club. As it turned out, I was elected to the board of directors myself this past January
and I now serve as the Press Club Secretary. And, because I live in the neighborhood, I
volunteered to act as chair of the Community Liaison committee.
One of the benefits of belong to the Press Club as far as I am concerned, is that I can take
friends up there on summer afternoons and we are able to sit out on the balcony with our drinks.
For the record, a dry gin martini at the Apothecary Bar (same view) is approximately twice what
the Press club charges. The Press Club doesn’t have a restaurant, so they permit “carry-ins”. I
often bring chips, cheese & crackers; pizza, or pot-stickers that I’d seamed at home. Another
advantage is that members can use the Press Club facilities for meetings and since my home is
too small for large gatherings, I’ve held pot-lucks for twenty eight at the Press Club, and a few
months ago, I arranged for two guest lecturers to speak to a group of eighteen men. In other
words, The Press Club is a lot more than a bar. It’s a place to meet and to socialize with
neighbors and friends. It’s also serves as a great “pit-stop” during my neighborhood walks, and I
inevitably find someone interesting to chat to.
If you are reading this news letter and would like to see the building for yourself, I, or some of
the other board members, would be more than happy to show you around. In my experience,
The Press Club is definitely part of our neighborhood, and I for one, would love to see more
neighbors recognize that the quirky building atop the hill is one of Huning Highland’s “hidden
gems.” And, while I certainly have ulterior motives, I wouldn’t mind seeing an increase in