Starting in the early 1950s, Albuquerque’s northeast heights was growing by “leaps and bounds”. Major employers like Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia Labs were bringing thousands of families, all who needed homes and schools for their “baby boomer” children. Housing areas north of Menaul Blvd., beginning at Carlisle and going east, were a beehive of home construction. The Bel-Air subdivision began around 1950, filling in a full mile from Carlisle east to San Mateo and Menaul north to Candelaria. The Albuquerque Public Schools owned a large tract of land just east of Montclaire St. and stretching one-half mile from Candelaria to Comanche NE. Bel-Air Elementary School opened in 1952 and McKinley Jr. High opened in 1956 to meet the school needs of the area.
Houses continued to be built from Candelaria going north the one mile to Montgomery and from Carlisle east to San Mateo. Another elementary school was needed. In July 1956, the APS Board of Education voted to “establish a new Bel-Air Elementary School” between the existing Bel Air Elementary School and McKinley Jr. High. The name of the new school was Hodgin which honored Charles E. Hodgin, the first Superintendent of the City Schools of Albuquerque in 1899. Mrs. Tonie Angel was designated as the first principal. Hodgin operated as a “barracks school” from 1956-1958.
Minutes of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education meeting of Oct. 9, 1956 showed that the site of the permanent Hodgin Elementary School, 11.2 acres located on Morningside NE, was purchased at a cost of $26, 325. Soon after, the minutes of March 27, 1957 showed the selection of Louis Hesselden as the architect for Hodgin Elementary School (HES). Hodgin’s construction budget was established at $266,000 as indicated in the April 30, 1957 minutes. Final construction plans were accepted in September 1957 and the K.L. House Construction Company was awarded the contract to build HES on Nov. 27, 1957. The Board accepted Hodgin on August 15, 1958 and Hodgin opened its doors to students the day after Labor Day 1958.
The original school shaped like a “U” was sufficient for a few years but continuing growth led to construction in 1965 of a second classroom building just west of the main school. The original school sat on the east part of the property with a dirt playground sloping to the west. That area didn’t change much for almost 30 years till the 1980s when there were drainage and grading improvements and new play equipment to replace “old fashioned” tether ball poles, swings and metal equipment called “monkey bars” because children would swing like monkeys from the metal rails.
Later improvements were a mini-gym, a kindergarten building and a library. Then a westerly portion of the land was transferred to the state of NM for a preschool for the hearing impaired in 1995.
Information prepared by Janet Wagner Saiers, student at Hodgin 1958-1960.