Los Alamos Historical Society plans to preserve Oppenheimer house

Los Alamos Historical Society pushes to preserve Oppenheimer house

There's a new push to preserve the original house that J. Robert Oppenheimer and his family lived in while in Los Alamos.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – There’s a new push to preserve the original house that J. Robert Oppenheimer and his family lived in while in Los Alamos. 

The city’s Historical Society says one of its main projects this year is to raise money for the restoration. They say the Oppenheimers lived there for two and half years during the Manhattan Project. 

“There’s great history in this room, the Oppenheimer’s did a lot of entertaining, this is where they had their dinners. This is where the stories have come about being introduced to the Oppenheimer martinis that are very strong,” said Cherie Trottier chair of the Oppenheimer Renovation Committee with the Los Alamos Historical Society.

Leslie Linke with the historical society says interest in the house has piqued since the movie release.

“It’s been incredible. I don’t remember the exact figures. But we usually give, for instance, one tour a day. It’s basically outside the historic all throughout the historic district. During the summer, we did three a day. And, you know, our numbers increased by over 50%,” said Linke. 

Now, the society wants to restore the cottage. They estimate the project will cost around $2 million.  

Trottier says a major issue is the foundation. 

“We have a termite infestation that we did not know about,” Trottier said. “We hired historic architects that did a thorough evaluation. And we have the pictures to show these beams where there’s like literally only that much of the wood left.”

She says because of the historic nature of the house, the work has to be done very carefully.  

“So again, the challenges of doing the upgrades with the electrical, moving it away from cloth cupboard wiring. We have to install a new service connector, new panel, new meters, all of that. But it has to be done without poking holes in walls,” Trottier said. 

She says fundraising will start soon. The nonprofit says there are challenges, but they add the history is priceless. 

“In my opinion, this house is a national treasure. And for us to have the opportunity to open it up to the public is just a phenomenal, phenomenal thing,” said Linke. 

The house was deeded to the society in 2020 and will become part of their museum campus. The historic society says those renovations we talked about would just be phase one. 

For more information on how you can donate to the project, click here