Historic New Mexico Rawlins House, Dating Back to 1800s, Receives Renovation

Rawlins Building, 515 Railroad Avenue, Las Vegas, San Miguel County. Credit:  National Park Service, U.S. federal government.
Rawlins Building, 515 Railroad Avenue, Las Vegas, San Miguel County. Credit: National Park Service, U.S. federal government.

LAS VEGAS, NM – A historic Las Vegas, New Mexico building that was originally built in the 1800s has received an extensive renovation after the project was delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rawlins House – a former dormitory located on Railroad Avenue in Las Vegas – dates back to 1898, when it was originally built by William W. Rawlins.

Before the end of the Railroad District, the Rawlins building was an important part of the city’s vibrant downtown area, and was especially popular place to live among the women – known as “Harvey Girls” – working at the Castaneda Hotel across the street.


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Thomas Clayton, who co-purchased the building in 2015 along with his wife, said that he wants to return the Rawlins House back to its former glory days, and to that end he set about renovating the property.

“As a little boy, I remember playing in that building,” Clayton said. “I grew up on that neighborhood. I grew up on Railroad Avenue. I remember as a child there was so many things going on, and we wanted to give back.”

The Rawlins House – currently a National Register of Historic Places structure – was previously owned and run by Clayton’s grandparents, who purchased it in 1949; from there, they continued to keep the establishment open until finally closing it in the 1970’s, and it has sat vacant and in a state of disrepair ever since. Clayton noted that he and his wife stepped in and bought the property when talk of tearing it down surfaced.

“We wanted to save the building,” he said. “It was close to demolition by neglect.”

After hiring a local contractor to work with him on the renovation, Clayton said that he set out on fixing up the building; however, he ran into a few snags along the way that delayed the project, not the least of which was the pandemic.

However, the $1 million, self-funded renovation is nearly complete, and after giving the building a full makeover top-to-bottom – starting literally with the roof, and finishing with the foundation – the Rawlins House is ready to open. It will now be used as a lodging establishment that will feature three 1-bedroom apartments and two 2-bedroom apartments, three of which will serve as Airbnb’s.

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