Montezuma, New Mexico
Southern Baptist Archives provided materials from Whispering Pines, the Montezuma College yearbook. The Albuquerque Journal covered many sporting events of the school. Montezuma Memories is a compilation of the recollections of former students. Daniel Richard Carnett’s Contending for the Faith describes the founding of the school. The logo is from a Montezuma College catalog.
The New Mexico Baptist Conference began plans for a college in 1919, accepting the offer of the Montezuma Hotel in Montezuma. Raising funds to renovate the building delayed the beginning of school until September 1922. At that time, the school opened with 231 students. Initially there were junior high and high schools classes in addition to first-year college offerings. Montezuma College then added a year of curriculum each year until a full four-year program was reached.
Montezuma College experienced financial difficulties from the start. The Educational Commission of the Southern Baptist Church pledged $100,000. The college understood that these were operating funds to equip and maintain the school. However, the Education Commission saw them as an endowment. A new promise of $20,000 per year over five years did not materialize, according to Carnett, so the college sought funds outside the state. The book Montezuma Memories notes that “the school survived from month to month.” In addition, many of the students worked for the school to help cover the cost of tuition. After the Great Depression hit, Montezuma College was not successful in raising operating funds and so was forced to close in the spring of 1930.
Montezuma Memories shows that 83 students had graduated from Montezuma College through 1929.
Bricks and Mortar
The Montezuma Hotel dates from 1882. It was designed by Chicago architects John Root and Daniel Burnham and built by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Complete with turrets and towers, the hotel was a major attraction. Before it closed in 1903, it had hosted Rutherford B. Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman and Theodore Roosevelt.
After Montezuma College closed, the Catholic Church operated a seminary in the old hotel, training Indian priests until 1972. In 1997 the United World College, a prep school associated with Armand Hammer and the Prince of Wales, renovated the building. In addition to housing the UWC, the old hotel now serves as a major tourist attraction for the region.
Montezuma Castle today "Mcastle2003" by User:Uucp - Own work (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mcastle2003.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mcastle2003.jpg) accessed 10-27-2017
Team Name: Mountaineers (Albuquerque Journal refers to them as Chieftains)
Colors: They may have been maroon and white. Montezuma Memories notes that at the 1951 meeting of the Montezuma Club, the Class of ’26 presented a basket of maroon and white carnations.
The Montezuma Castle website reports that at Montezuma College “a very small football team was enthusiastically supported by the student body of about 50.” The 1927 Whispering Pines noted that when practice opened that year, the team had only six players, of which three were returning lettermen. The team picture in that yearbook shows 17 players. The yearbook shows that most were freshmen, in their first year of college football. Despite these drawbacks, Montezuma regularly played the likes of New Mexico, New Mexico A&M, Texas Tech, and Wyoming.
Teams were also subjected to brutal travel conditions. In the school’s second-hand bus, the trip to Gunnison, CO, “lasted from noon Tuesday until Friday night,” according to Whispering Pines. Needless to say, given the schedule and the small enrollment, Montezuma College experienced little football success. The 1927 team earned a single victory, that coming over New Mexico School of Mines 14-12. The team drew with Wayland College of Texas, but went down to defeat at New Mexico Military, at New Mexico, at Western (CO) State and at Northern Arizona.
The 1928 girl's basketball team won two of three games played (Photo from Whispering Pines, courtesy of Sonja Berry)