Saturday, March 20, 2004
Ridgecrest Home Harbors Fond Memories
By Barbara Armijo
Of the Journal
H.B. Horn's home is more than a brick beauty sitting in the heart of Albuquerque's Ridgecrest neighborhood.
It is really a retrospective of his life and of his devotion to his wife, Lucille his high school sweetheart he married 67 years ago. The house is just brimming with memories.
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Lucille is battling Alzheimer's, and 87-year-old H.B. dotes on her. She still calls him her boyfriend, and the love they share is reflected in every room of their home.
"I've always liked the color red, and glass and mirrors, and crystal chandeliers," Lucille, 85, says. "I told the interior designers to do whatever they wanted so long as I got those things. And they did it, don't you think?"
'Just the way they are'
Lucille got what she asked for and much more.
Built in 1973, the home is big about 4,500 square feet, not including a four-car garage and an enclosed pool area that is now a game room. Other than having the pool decked over, the home has been relatively untouched from a designer's standpoint.
The furniture is from Baker, Knapp and Tubbs, one of San Francisco's finest furniture makers. The chandeliers and accents are all Austrian crystal, also bought from San Francisco. Everything in the house, including the East Indian rugs that warm the floors, was made especially for the Horns.
"We haven't changed anything in all these years," H.B. says. "Haven't needed to, haven't wanted to. We like things just the way they are. I know Lucille does."
Walk into the entry way and you encounter a handsome handcrafted staircase that leads to upstairs bedrooms. There you will also find H.B.'s office and the guest rooms. There's a loft area where family pictures share space with works of art from local artists such as Betty Sabo, Ron Body and Ben Turner.
"Most of this has been given to me," H.B. says. "It's all special to me. I have to put it up because it is all so beautiful and it all has meaning to my life."
In his office H.B. steps outside his private life with Lucille and back into his very public life as one of Albuquerque's longest-standing businessmen, philanthropists and church and community leaders. The office is a retrospective of H.B.'s career, all contained in four walls and one very interesting closet.
The closet contains tidbits of the funny, laugh-until-you-cry moments that H.B. has shared with his friends, many of them in the Shrine. He joined the Masonic Lodge No. 60 in 1948, and has served in several posts. He was potentate of New Mexico's Ballut Abyad Shrine in 1977. He has also served as Chaplain of the Ballut Abyad Shrine and on the board of governors for the Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children in Los Angeles.
Nearly every trinket or souvenir he has collected as a Shriner has gone in the closet. He has scrapbooks and photo albums from years ago, and says that when he needs a good laugh, he goes into the closet and picks up something and that does the trick.
On the office walls are more pictures H.B. standing with various New Mexico governors, senators and business leaders. He shows one of which he is particularly proud, taken of his son Tom and his brother Calvin with Senators Ted Kennedy and Clinton Anderson in 1967 at the University of New Mexico.
Calvin, a New Mexico politician and businessman, died in 1996. H.B. says there was only room for one politician in the family, so he left that to Calvin.
And Calvin did it with gusto. A Democrat, he served six years in the state House of Representatives and was House Speaker in 1951. He also served four years in the state Senate, and 12 years as a University of New Mexico regent, including six as president of the board of regents.
Together as businessmen, the Horns accomplished the American Dream, says H.B.
"My father died when we were very young," he says. "And then my mother died when we were in our teens. It was just Calvin and I, but we always remembered what Mother had always told us about finding success and about working.
"She told us, 'Be honest in everything you do and you'll succeed.' ''
H.B. Horn started Horn Oil Co. in 1939, which he operated until 1977. He also developed a shopping center, theater, bowling alley and two motels in Albuquerque. Today he still goes to his Albuquerque office every day.
Fortune was his, H.B. says, because he provided exceptional service. He started Horn Oil Co. from a little gas station in the South Valley, just off Bridge Boulevard on Isleta SW. The building is still there today, the home of an auto repair shop.
Hard work has made H.B. one of New Mexico's wealthiest residents, but he is not one to rest on his laurels. He's an active community leader, especially when it comes to serving the First Baptist Church where he is a lifetime member.
H.B., on the board of the YMCA of Albuquerque, has been helping the Y since 1958. Because of H.B. and other business leaders, the Y has a summer camp in Jemez and child day care housed at the First Baptist Church in Downtown Albuquerque.
"We wouldn't have some of the programs we have if it were not for H.B. and Lucille," says Marian Bolton, executive director of the YMCA of Albuquerque. "H.B. has always understood what we are about. I think the life he led, and the fact that he and his brother worked so hard to succeed, plays into why he gives so generously to us. He wants children to have a chance. Maybe that's because he knows what is possible if a child gets a chance."
Says H.B.: "To give back to Albuquerque at the level of the YMCA and the church, that's important to me. They do great things, just great things."
Downstairs in the grand living room sits a piano. If the ivories could talk, they probably would rattle off some fine stories of dinner parties and the guests. The Horns' friends in business and in their philanthropic endeavors are very important to them. H.B. said the good times and memories of the social gatherings are still very dear to his heart.
"When I was potentate, that's when we would have parties," H.B. says. "These were special times. We'd use the silver punch set, and we would entertain our friends and have wonderful times."
At the front of the house is a modest kitchen and eating area where H.B. has three TVs set up so he can watch news, sports and business from different stations at the same time.
"Guess you can say I'm a news hound," he admits with a grin.
The couple's bedroom, saved for last on this tour, is for Lucille.
"I wanted it to be hers, just the way she wanted it," H.B. says. "She raised our boys and took care of things while I was working."
The Horns have two sons, Benton Horn, who is in the real estate business in Carmel, Calif., and Thomas Horn, an attorney in San Francisco, Calif.
When he gave Lucille freedom to choose exactly how she wanted the bedroom, he says he also had to agree to love it, no matter what.
So here it is, same as it was when the home was built more than 30 years ago, right down to the red velvet wall coverings.
You actually won't find any painted walls in the Horns' home, because they are all done in specialty paper, velvet or embossed coverings.
The rest of the bedroom is the way Lucille envisioned it years ago, too, with a red bedspread covering a round bed, and red satin window coverings.
Lucille's bathroom is pink and its focal point is a round, sunken bathtub with a crystal chandelier hanging over it, which back in the '70s was even more of a luxury than it is in today's more modern homes.
This is Lucille's room, one H.B. says reminds him of his beautiful wife every day and every night.
"She loves this place, and I do to," he says, looking around his home. "The memories and the treasures we have here make it, really. Outside it's just a house."
Inside, it's a masterpiece.