They’re banking old building brings investments

Thomas Garcia

A Tucumcari couple is working to restore a Main Street building to draw businesses and life back to downtown.

The two-story building at the corner of South Second and Main streets has undergone many facelifts, said Niva Romero, owner.

Pictures featured in the book “Quay County: 1903-1985,” show the building from the early 1900s housing the Elk Rooms, Elk Drugs and First National bank.

Romero and her husband, Carlos Romero, bought the building in 2008, and have reopened the front portion as offices of Engineers Inc. Romero declined to share its purchase price.

Niva Romero is one of the seven owners of Engineers Inc., which has offices located in Silver City and Las Cruces. The Tucumcari office was on Camino Del Coronado.

“We wanted to do something positive in downtown Tucumcari,” Niva Romero said. “We really care about Tucumcari. Engineers Inc. The firm contributes gross receipts taxes annually to the city on revenue between $350,000 to $500,000.”

Carlos Romero said that by restoring the building he hopes to create an anchor for downtown Tucumcari.
“We want to remodel the back portion of the building and make offices out of that space,” Niva Romero said. “Promoting Tucumcari, that is what this is all about.”

The building features many styles of construction in architecture inside and outside of the building. The interior lobby and offices still have the marble benches that were used by First National Bank customers. The teller stands are still in place and the two columns in the center of the room have glass tabletops and slots to hold deposit slips.

The Romero couple said they have had several residents of Tucumcari come in and tour the building’s two stories and basement and its contents.

“At first we had to lock the doors when we were cleaning out the building because so many people kept coming inside to look,” Niva Romero said.

At one time, there used to be a dress shop and beauty parlor in the rear of the building, Carlos Romero said. The Elk Rooms (hotel rooms) were located above the First National Bank and Elk Drugs shared the ground level with the bank.

“My uncle Herman Moncus bought Elk Drugs from Mrs. J.A. Conwell,” said Lynn Moncus, Tucumcari resident and historian. “He later moved Elk drugs to a new building.”

Herman Moncus started working at Elk Drugs in 1925 he took over as manager, when J.A. Conwell died, according to “Quay History 1903-1985.”

He bought the business in 1940 and three years later moved it to the new location at 103 east Main St.

“There are six safes located in this building,” Niva Romero said. “One of them is a large ball safe that we think was the original safe for the First National Bank.”

One is located upstairs in Niva’s office. Two wall safes are located in the lobby or office area. A drop box or deposit safe and the large ball safe are located towards the rear of the ground level. The final safe is located in the basement.

Niva Romero said one day while people were visiting the building, someone showed her how the ball safe revolved revealing the safety deposit boxes.

“A man went right up to the safe and started to roll it,” Niva Romero said. “I thought that he had broken the safe.”

So many people have come into the building and shared their stories about this building,” Niva Romero said. “It is one of the reasons we are trying to restore and save this building.”