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Input sought on Oppenheimer house

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By Garrison Wells

When Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer lived in Los Alamos from 1943-1945, it was in a house on “Bathtub Row.”
The leading scientist at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory lived in the home with his wife, Kitty, their son Peter and daughter, Toni.
According to the Los Alamos Historical Society, it was built in the late 1920s for Mary K. Connell, an artist, and consisted of a studio/living room, kitchen, study and “sleeping porch.”
After Oppenheimer moved in, a dining room was added, as well as the number, like all lab buildings at the time. The cottage was designated T-111.
After the Manhattan Project, a new bath and bedroom were added in late 1945.
Today, although the house is owned by the historical society in a life trust, the present residents are allowed to remain in the house as long as they want.
But when they move out, it’s all up to the historical society.
Because the home will eventually be opened to the public, the group has scheduled public meetings Thursday and Friday with scholars, preservationists, historic house experts and members of the community about the best ways to incorporate the house into the museum complex in Los Alamos, according to a press release.
“The Oppenheimer House became a hub of activity during the Manhattan Project and was the site of world-changing scientific discussions, numerous parties and, of course, Robert’s famous martinis. We’d like to know what the stone walls of the house would say if they could talk,” said Heather McClenahan, assistant museum director.
“We are lucky that the homes on Bathtub Row have maintained their original character over the years, thanks to a number of historically-minded owners. The cottages were instrumental in Los Alamos being chosen as the site of the Manhattan Project and they will play a role today should Congress designate a Manhattan Project National Historical Park.”
The museum complex includes the Los Alamos Historical Museum, the Los Alamos Historical Museum Archives and homestead-era Romero Cabin.
The Thursday meeting will be from 1:45-5 p.m. in Fuller Lodge. On Friday, it will be from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Hilltop House.
A meeting for specifically soliciting public comment will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the La Vista Room at the Best Western Hilltop House.
For more information, please call 662-6272.