Allen Stamm: Good heart, good bones

An Allen Stamm house never loses its character. Courtesy photoA Stamm never loses its character. Photo by Rebecca Clay

Prolific barely begins to describe the late Allen Stamm, who designed and built several thousand homes in and around Santa Fe from 1939 to 1980. When named a Santa Fe Living Treasure in 2003, this native New Mexican was called “a visionary” and “a man of immense integrity, character, compassion and humanity.”

The Stamm name is synonymous with that oft-elusive mix of excellent workmanship and affordability. Before World War II, Stamm built 40 houses starting at $3,500 in South Capitol’s Lovato Heights — he paid about $200 an acre for the land at the time. After serving in the Navy during the war, he came home to continue building quality homes for returning veterans and their families, creating Casa Mañana, Casa Linda (Kaune neighborhood), Casa Alegre, Casa Solana and other in-town subdivisions. His reach eventually extended to Farmington, Española and White Rock.

“Allen always stayed busy,” says local contractor Ed Crocker, who credits Stamm for helping him through a financial crisis years ago. “He just could not stop building. He was also quick to smile, loved jokes and appreciated a bargain. Very loyal to his employees, too, and they returned that loyalty. Allen was very much a people person.”

As of this writing, at least 25 Stamm homes are on the Santa Fe-area market, ranging from a small $115,000 “starter” house in Española to an extensively renovated Santa Fe residence going for more than $1.2 million. While he created whole neighborhoods on spec, he also custom-built for clients; two such Stamm homes on Old Pecos Trail are listed in the $700,000s.

So how do you know you’re in a home built by Stamm? It’s probably single-story, frame/stucco and Pueblo style. Look for hardwood floors, pine vigas, nichos, a kiva-style fireplace and a family room or bedroom that was once a garage. You may also find a distinctive solid wood and studded front door, plus deep, built-in bedroom and hallway closets with matching drawers below. Yards are often large with mature trees, and if there is a fence or wall out front, it was probably added later — Stamm’s vision included a friendly and open environment.

“When you walk into one of his houses,” adds Crocker, who has owned two Stamm homes, “you feel it. He set the standard for quality construction and nice design at an affordable price. And there wasn’t a home he built where he wasn’t his own inspector — he saw them all. It wasn’t just about profit. He loved to create little communities. And he was all about ‘Build it once, build it right.’ ”

With so many Stamm homes having undergone remodels and upgrades, what might the builder think of the changes wrought by homeowners over the years? “Allen would be perfectly fine with that,” Crocker says. “He wanted people to be happy in his houses. All he would ask is that the quality of the work be up to his standards.”

Allen Stamm died in 2003.

Rebecca Clay is a Realtor with Evolve Santa Fe Real Estate. For information about homes and land in Santa Fe, contact her at Rebecca@evolvesantafe.com or 629-6043.

(5) comments

William Mee

Did not know he started in business before WWII.

Another early subdivision was the Grill Addition by Mr. Fred Grill of Agua Fria Village who later donated his property to San Isidro Church.

Emily Koyama

Too bad that today's tract home builders, who are busy throwing up stapled-together particle board boxes didn't learn anything from Stamm.

John Onstad

Don't forget a Stamm standard: floor furnaces.

Rebecca Clay

Thanks for your comment, John -- good point!

Steve Salazar

That's the first thing to remove.

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