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Santa Fe Style: Stamm Houses

What is a Stamm home in Santa Fe?

When you open the solid wood front door of a Stamm house, you feel safe and at home.  It is said that to this day, no one has contributed more to the concept of home and affordable housing as visionary Santa Fe builder Allen Stamm.

santa fe style home
416 W San Mateo Rd - Stamm Home from 1967

Prolific barely begins to describe the late Allen Stamm, who designed and built several thousand homes in and around Santa Fe from 1939 to 1980. When named a Santa Fe Living Treasure in 2003, this native New Mexican was called “a visionary” and “a man of immense integrity, character, compassion and humanity.”

Mr. Stamm began building his high-quality, affordable homes in 1939 after serving in WWII. Knowing the suffering of the war and the Great Depression, Mr. Stamm "understood that hard-working but poor people needed decent homes in which to live and raise their families."

The Stamm name is synonymous with that oft-elusive mix of excellent workmanship and affordability. Before World War II, Stamm built 40 houses starting at $3,500 in South Capitol’s Lovato Heights — he paid about $200 an acre for the land at the time.

After serving in the Navy during the war, he came home to continue building quality homes for returning veterans and their families, creating Casa Mañana, Casa Linda (Kaune neighborhood), Casa Alegre, Casa Solana and other in-town subdivisions. His reach eventually extended to Farmington, Española and White Rock.

“Allen always stayed busy,” says local contractor Ed Crocker, who credits Stamm for helping him through a financial crisis years ago. “He just could not stop building. He was also quick to smile, loved jokes and appreciated a bargain. Very loyal to his employees, too, and they returned that loyalty. Allen was very much a people person.”

The Architecture of Stamm Homes in Santa Fe

Stamm homes are usually single-story, frame/stucco and Pueblo style. Stamm Homes usually include hardwood floors, pine vigas, nichos, a kiva-style fireplace and a family room or bedroom that was once a garage. You may also find a distinctive solid wood and studded front door, plus deep, built-in bedroom and hallway closets with matching drawers below.

An early Stamm had two bedrooms, one bath, living room, kitchen, one-car garage, a walled back yard and an open front yard. Mr. Stamm hired women consultants to design the kitchens and did not fence the front yard because he wanted neighbors to get to know one another.  He designed places for Christmas trees and highchairs and built garages easily converted to a new bedroom.

As families grew, garages were converted to bedrooms, rooms were added on, and in some cases, second stories were added. The sizes and floor plans vary. Some homes are as small as 815 square feet and are as charming as they can be while others have undergone renovations and add-ons. 

Yards are often large with mature trees, and if there is a fence or wall out front, it was probably added later — Stamm’s vision included a friendly and open environment.

“When you walk into one of his houses,” adds Crocker, who has owned two Stamm homes, “you feel it. He set the standard for quality construction and nice design at an affordable price. And there wasn’t a home he built where he wasn’t his own inspector — he saw them all. It wasn’t just about profit. He loved to create little communities. And he was all about ‘Build it once, build it right.’”

With so many Stamm homes having undergone remodels and upgrades, what might the builder think of the changes wrought by homeowners over the years? “Allen would be perfectly fine with that,” Crocker says. “He wanted people to be happy in his houses. All he would ask is that the quality of the work be up to his standards.”

Stamm Neighborhoods

Stamm shaped several of Santa Fe's most distinctive neighborhoods and redefined home design and building.

The best known Stamm neighborhoods are Casa Solana (west of St. Francis Drive and north of W. Alameda Street).  Casa Alegre (on both sides of Osage Avenue, sandwiched between Agua Fria Street and Cerrillos Road), and Casa Linda (off of Cerrillos Road at Monterey Drive).  

Unfortunately, you can no longer buy a Stamm home for $3,800 with a $300 down payment at $40 per month. But by today's standards, Stamm homes are still modestly priced and a top-notch investment.  A Stamm lets you still buy a single family home in town with a yard and mature trees for a reasonable price.

Allen Stamm died in 2003.


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