Chapel History

A place to celebrate and remember . . .

The UNM Alumni Memorial Chapel is a placeholder of significant events in the lives of alumni. Built in 1962 as a memorial to alumni killed in the nation’s wars, the UNM Alumni Memorial Chapel has served the campus community in joyful and trying times. Dedicated to UNM’s fallen soldiers of World Wars I and II, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, whose names are listed on its south wall. The chapel is a place of both reflection and remembrance. Thousands of weddings and numerous memorials have taken place within its walls. Its simple elegance complements any occasion, public or personal.

The History Of The Chapel

In the beginning, the idea of a memorial building or chapel was first proposed to the university by the Alumni Relations Office in 1944. By 1953, alumni, students, faculty, staff and businesses had raised $40,000 for the project. The following year, architect John Gaw Meem of the firm Meem, Holien, Buckley and Associates drew the first plans. By 1959, $75,000 had been raised. But costs were rising faster than donations.

Meem's firm was asked to eliminate the retablos and other furnishings from the bid. The plans were finalized in December 1959, bids were advertised in January 1960, and the contract was awarded to Bradbury and Stamm Construction in March 1960. The completed costs would run to $106,000. The university agreed to furnish the remaining funds.

The original three site proposals for the building were north of Mesa Vista (near today's Ortega Hall), in the grove of trees north of Zimmerman Library, and the current site near Scholes Hall. Architect John Gaw Meem had wanted the building centrally located north of Mesa Vista so students could get "physical refreshment" from the Student Union and "spiritual refreshment" from the nearby chapel. The Chapel was contructed of cinder block, shale brick and hollow tiles to create a gentle slope from the ground up.

The consulting firm of John Carl Warnecke and Associates, which was preparing a campus master plan, suggested that the chapel be built on the site near Scholes Hall, reserving the interior campus space for academic buildings. That swayed the decision toward the chapel's current location.

Chapel Details

Architect John Gaw Meem of Meem, Holien, Buckley and Associates
Landscape Architect Edward Holien
Landscape Consultation Committee members and the physical plant
Contractors Bradbury and Stamm Construction
Architectural Style Based on Franciscan Mission
Construction Cinder block, shale brick, hollow tiles
Completion Date 1962

The Golden Anniversary

The UNM Alumni Association celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the Alumni Memorial Chapel, April 28 and 29, 2012

On April 28, UNM staff, representatives of the UNM ROTC, and alumni gathered to remember our alumni who gave their lives in our nation’s wars with a war memorial and flag ceremony. The solemn, moving program featured a reading of the names of the soldiers on the chapel wall, the addition of a new name to the wall, tolling bells, bagpipes, and the lighting of luminarias.

Then, on April 29, more than 250 people helped us celebrate 50 years of love. With music, song, cherished memories, and wedding vow renewals, couples celebrated their commitments. Following the ceremony and re-dedication of the chapel, everyone gathered in Hodgin Hall for a reception with great food, live music, conversation, and even a little dancing.

SEND US YOUR PHOTOS! We would love to have pictures of you in the Chapel, then and now, or any other chapel photos you are willing to share for future Chapel programs.

Alumni Memorial Chapel Poster

Please e-mail your high-resolution, copyright-free photos to Please include a signed photo release form. Or, post your photos to our Facebook page.

For questions or more information:

Kathie Scott
Special Events Coordinator