The Journal continues “What’s in a Name?,” a twice a month column in which staff writer Elaine Briseño will give a short history of how places in New Mexico got their names.
Arno Huning is a notable figure in the city’s history but his most visible mark was something he had absolutely no hand in creating.
Arno Street bears his name thanks to his father, Franz Huning, a pioneer in the urbanization of Albuquerque.
Arno is a primarily residential road, about a block east of Broadway, that spans from the South Valley north through the Huning Highland Historic District to Granite. The Huning Highland District was also named by Franz Huning and was the city’s first residential subdivision. Many of the homes in the district, including along Arno, are historical treasures in Albuquerque. The homes there were built in the Queen Anne architectural style, which features a variety of materials, gables, towers and screened-in porches. Smaller, one-story homes are sometimes referred to as Simplified Anne style because they have less elaborate features than larger homes and structures.
Arno was born in 1869 and was the second child of Ernestine and Franz Huning. He grew up in the famous Huning Castle – an opulent mansion that once sat guard along Central Ave. straddling the border between Old Town and Downtown. It was demolished in 1955 after falling into disrepair.
As a young man, Arno Huning moved to Philadelphia to start his career as an engineer, but returned in 1905 after his father’s death. He once again took up residence in the castle along with his mother and his wife, Helen, formerly Scroggs, whom he had married in 1889 in her hometown of Lenox, Iowa.
Huning Castle begin to show some signs of wear when Arno lived there but he didn’t seem to panic much. After reading this Aug. 14, 1911, Albuquerque Journal story, I’m pretty sure I would have panicked if this happened to me. According to the report, the home’s east tower completely collapsed at 6 p.m. on Aug. 13. The incident created so much ruckus that the neighbors thought half the house had crumbled before the family put an end to the rumor.
“We were looking for it (the tower) to go over at almost any time as it had been sagging more and more, probably from a weakened foundation,” Arno said. “I am just as well satisfied to dispense with it, and we shall not rebuild it.”
His father left to him in trust all of his real estate holdings. It was near the castle his father built that Arno Huning erected another architectural marvel – the Huning Castle Apartments, obviously named after his mansion. He wasn’t holding on very tight to his purse strings when he built them either.
According to advertisements at the time, the apartments would “help to fill a long-felt need in this city in providing homes for those of the most exacting requirements. The architect, while not restricted as to cost, has not permitted fancy to wander at random but has kept his product within the bounds of refined elegance.”
The U-shaped building had a central courtyard and 20 one- and two-bedroom units with nine-foot ceilings and hardwood floors.
Another advertisement at the time suggests Huning was trying to attract a certain type of clientele to his newly built apartments.
“Beautifully situated in our city’s most exclusive residential section and occupying a most liberal portion of the spacious Huning Castle grounds are the Castle Apartment homes, now nearing completion.”
The ad went on to say he wanted them occupied by “well-chosen and congenial families…”
Not sure how well that would go over these days, but they definitely remained a trendy place to live decades after they were built. But it was a fire in 2009, not the wrecking ball, that took this historical structure. The building was gutted and too costly to repair. It was torn down and a bank has taken its place.
Arno Huning’s main occupation was running the Arno Huning Electric Co., which he started in 1906. Huning died of pneumonia on Jan. 8, 1936, and the company was sold a year later. An obituary for Helen Huning in 1947 indicates the couple had two daughters, Ernestine and Jane.
Though not much more is known about him on a personal level, and while his castle is gone, apartments destroyed by fire and business sold off, his street remains.
Curious about how a town, street or building got its name? Email staff writer Elaine Briseño at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-823-3965 as she continues the monthly journey in “What’s in a Name?”