From Bomb Builders, A Building For Compassionates


In 1950, with World War II still fresh in people’s minds and trouble brewing in Korea, a dull-looking dormitory sat near the rim of Pueblo Canyon. It housed young male scientists, including a new arrival – 24-year-old physicist Lewis Agnew. His bride-to-be, Marge, lived in a women’s dorm not far away. Weapons work, scenery, romances, and ethical questions were abundant across the townsite in those days.

Not long after, Marge and Lew – now married – joined the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, which had just been founded in 1953 by 25 town residents. The church, with its varied activities for adults and kids, grew steadily and the congregation became the voice of liberal religion in our isolated community. Eventually the congregation bought Lew’s old dorm from the Atomic Energy Commission, renovating it to create a sanctuary, classrooms, etc. – to his amusement!

For decades thereafter, community people found many uses for rooms in that nondescript but welcoming building:

  • Dance, Taiji, and gymnastics classes
  • meetings of the Red Cross, the AAUW, a pagan coven, and AA/Al-anon groups
  • a daycare center
  • music lessons
  • support groups

Fast forward to today. After three generations and 70 years, the Unitarian Church in 2023 has a handsome and smartly designed new building at the same site. The sanctuary view still enthralls attendees year-round — stretching through tall pines and across Pueblo Canyon, the golf course, and the mountains. And to cap off (literally!) the building’s energy efficiency, about 10,000 square feet of the roof will be covered with solar panels by this summer. Today’s members and “friends”, now over 200 people, are pleased that the church will soon be roughly 80% energy independent. An exciting way to celebrate an anniversary!

Early members from the ‘50s would surely be overjoyed to see today’s modern and functional one-story building, as well as its gardens, playground, and well-used outdoor food pantry. There’s even a food forest with a variety of edibles! And those “pioneers” would likely be proud of all the ways Unitarians here still strive to interweave loving-kindness, community, social justice work, and open-mindedness. Marge Agnew (now living in Colorado) returned last fall for Lew’s memorial service and expressed their love for the church community and its many strides forward.

Like all facilities nationwide that rent property, the Unitarian Church here lost most renters in 2020-2022. But users are now starting to return, and concerted efforts are underway to draw in more. Eight rooms (seating from 6 to 170 people) are ready to again be a beehive of vibrancy in the county! With ample parking, good soundproofing, reasonable rates, three restrooms, a large kitchen, COVID-level air filtration, wedding packages, and outstanding acoustics, it’s well set-up to meet most groups’ needs.

Those interested in possibly using a space at the Unitarian Church should go to and click on “Rent Our Space“, or call Peg Dahl at (505) 662–2346, ext. 1.