By SHARON SNYDER
Los Alamos Historical Society
Fuller Lodge, the venerable log building and the heart of our town, was actually named Edward P. Fuller Lodge, and this is the story of how it got its name.
The Lodge, as it is called most of the time, was designed by noted Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem and opened its doors to Los Alamos Ranch School students, masters and staff in 1929, but the story that inspired the name began several years earlier.
The Ranch School was the dream of Ashley Pond Jr., but dreams almost always need money to become a reality. In the beginning, Pond partnered with friend and homesteader Harold Brook, who agreed to develop the school on his land. However, Brook was fighting tuberculosis, and it became clear that the partnership arrangement couldn’t last, so Brook sold out to Pond.
Understanding that he couldn’t run the school alone, Pond hired director A.J. Connell, a forest ranger and Boy Scout master in Santa Fe.
They made the most of some existing wooden buildings and constructed a two-story log structure that became known as the Big House, but the dream soon required more. It was clear that more money would be needed to pay the mortgage and develop the school.
Pond was the son of a noted attorney in Michigan and had grown up in a circle of wealthy and prominent people, so he returned to his boyhood home to find a benefactor. In Grand Rapids he found the right man in Philo Fuller, a longtime friend of the Pond family.
-Fuller was the mayor of Grand Rapids and a successful businessman in lumber and furniture manufacturing. He was willing to enter into a financial agreement, but he tailored the deal to also benefit his son, Edward Philo Fuller.
Edward had polio as a child, and it left him with impaired speech and a weak leg. The defects made him feel uncomfortable in his family’s business and social landscape. In Ashley Pond’s request, Philo Fuller saw a way to help his son as well as his friend.
He offered to supply Edward with enough money to buy the mortgage on the ranch if his son could live there and enjoy a different kind of life.
Pond accepted the plan, and Edward moved to the ranch to join the staff and work as a supervisor for the younger boys. Despite his bad leg, he loved horses and enjoyed riding.
The exercise, along with the mountain climate and fresh air, improved his health. Ed, as he was called at the ranch, was handy with a camera and became the school photographer for those early years.
In October 1917, Boy’s Life magazine published a spread of photographs they described as “full of life and action, taken by Edward P. Fuller of the Los Alamos Ranch School, and furnished by Scoutmaster A.J. Connell for the magazine.”
Ed Fuller enjoyed five good years at the ranch school, but following a prolonged illness, Ed died on December 9, 1923. He was 35 years old.
In May of 1926, the board of directors of Los Alamos Ranch School announced the establishment of an Edward P. Fuller Memorial Scholarship of $1,000 in honor of the man who made possible the financing of the school founded by Ashley Pond.
An article in the Santa Fe New Mexican reported the news of the tribute, saying, “Fuller’s deep and loyal interest in the school and his fine personality were among the greatest factors contributing to its success.” It was planned to have the first beneficiary of the scholarship come from Grand Rapids.
The scholarship was for the benefit of boys who needed the climatic advantages of the region and whose family was unable to afford the full $2,000 annual expense.
As Connell planned for the addition of another major building for the campus in 1926, he reflected on the contributions that Ed Fuller and his family had made to school. When the handsome new, three-story log building became a reality, it became the Edward P. Fuller Lodge.
In announcing the 1926 scholarship in Ed’s name, the New Mexican ended the article by commenting that “his memory will be ever kept green at Los Alamos.”
And, indeed, it has!
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These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. Many of these articles were originally published by the