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Classical architecture refers to the system of architectural design and construction developed by the ancient Greek civilization and later refined by the Roman Empire.

Classical architecture is characterized by the use of columns, capitals, lintels and cornices, called orders. The most common orders used throughout history are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Classical architecture has been modified by numerous revivals in the past, including during the Renaissance, and in America during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries.  New Mexico was influenced by these trends as were other parts of the country, which were further invigorated by the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.


Neo-classical architecture often refers to classical architecture as expressed in the United States. President Thomas Jefferson was a champion of classical architecture as an appropriate building aesthetic and technology for the new republic. Beginning with early examples such as Jefferson’s home Monticello and the University of Virginia campus, neo-classical architecture spread gradually to all parts of the country, including New Mexico.


World’s Fair Classic refers to neo-classical buildings constructed after the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The wildly popular Chicago World’s Fair featured grand classical pavilions constructed of stucco and painted white, creating a “White City.” In New Mexico, the influence of the Chicago World’s Fair and the surging push for statehood caused a flurry of new construction in the “World’s Fair Classic” style to demonstrate New Mexico’s “American” aspirations. Numerous World’s Fair Classic buildings constructed between 1900 and 1920 still survive in Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Roswell. In Santa Fe, they were transformed into the “Santa Fe Style,” such as the Territorial capitol building, now the Bataan Memorial building.