William Thomas LUMPKINS US, 1909-2000


"Architecture is discipline --painting is freedom. I need both."


- William Lumpkins

The term "Renaissance Man" is much overused. William Lumpkins truly earns the name. Architect, artist, solar energy pioneer, author, student of Zen Buddhism, community and political activist--William Lumpkins has been an important influence in Santa Fe for seventy years. Who else has a grand ballroom at the La Fonda Hotel named for him?


Born in 1909 on the Rabbit Ears Ranch near Clayton, New Mexico, to a pioneering family, he realized early in life that ranching was not for him. As a young man, he had for friends and mentors artist Peter Hurd and writer Paul Horgan, whom he met when his family relocated to Lincoln County and he was attending Roswell High School. At Capitan in 1935, he built his first passive solar house.

Young William made his first trip to Santa Fe in 1927 with friend Peter Hurd; later, as a graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Architecture, he designed over two thousand buildings in Santa Fe, including DeVargas Center and Rancho Encantado. Merging modern technology with ancient adobe building techniques, William was responsible for many historic preservation projects in town. Notably the restoration of the Santuario de Guadalupe.


With other solar activists, in 1972 William founded Sun Mountain Design, an influential group responsible for the solar demonstration center at Ghost Ranch, north of Santa Fe. He was an innovator with the photo voltaic cell, which converts solar energy to electricity, and an advocate of other renewable energy sources, such as the hot dry rock application.


A noted watercolorist, William has been associated with the major art movements of New Mexico in this century. As one of the Transcendentalists, he painted with Raymond Jonson. He frequented both the New Canton Cafe on San Francisco Street and the Plaza Cafe with the Santa Fe artist group Los Cinco Pintores. His work has been exhibited world-wide, in the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., with the Paris World's Fair American Group of 1940 in Chicago; Ketchum, Idaho, and La Jolla, California.


- Courtesy Santa Fe Living Treasures