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Santa Fe's Historic Hotels

Santa Fe's Historic Hotels

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Santa Fe's Historic Hotels

170 pagine
1 ora
Jun 17, 2013


It is unknown when the earliest commercial lodging establishment came to Santa Fe. However, the first clear identification of a hotel at a specific site in Santa Fe dates to 1833, when Mary and James Donoho operated an inn on the site of what is now La Fonda on the Plaza, the Inn at the End of the Trail. This book presents an overview of Santa Fe hotels from the past and highlights the city s important remaining historic hotels. The chapters include key establishments that had their start in the early 20th century and continue in operation today. Most of them are still in buildings with considerable historic and architectural significance, such as Bishop s Lodge, La Fonda, and the St. Francis. A chapter on an iconic Route 66 motor court, which is now known as the lovingly preserved El Rey Inn, is also included.
Jun 17, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

Paul R. Secord is a 1972 graduate of the University of New Mexico with degrees in anthropology and geology. After a career in Southern California as an environmental planning consultant specializing in historic and cultural resources, he now calls New Mexico home. He is the author of Arcadia Publishing's Albuquerque Deco and Pueblo, Santa Fe's Historic Hotels, and Pecos. Many images in this book come from the archives of the 100-year-old Bandelier National Monument.

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Santa Fe's Historic Hotels - Paul R. Secord



When the first commercial lodging establishment came to Santa Fe is unknown. While it is often assumed to have been during the Spanish period sometime between 1610 and 1821, this is probably not the case. In actuality, Santa Fe did not become a truly established city until the reconquest of the Southwest in 1692 following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, when all Europeans in the region were compelled to leave. Travel to Santa Fe during the Spanish period of about 128 years, from 1692 to the time of Mexican independence in 1821, was highly restricted. A traveler needed letters of transit stating the start and end dates as well as the purpose of the trip. Essentially, all travel was, at some level, official business. Merchants would have lodged in the private houses of their local colleagues, the clergy would have stayed with their local counterparts, and those on government business would more than likely have slept in rooms at the Palace of the Governors provided for this purpose. Teamsters, assistants, and helpers would have camped nearby, as they had been doing for the weeks of travel up from Mexico.

At that time, traffic into what is now New Mexico was north to south along a route between the northern frontier of Spanish America—like Santa Fe, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Mexico at the far north—and Mexico City to the south.

The earliest clear reference to a lodging dates from 1807, when explorer Zebulon Pike (of Colorado’s Pike’s Peak fame) noted a thriving inn in Santa Fe. This may have been the Santa Fe fonda (Spanish for inn) mentioned by later sources. This lodging, which probably consisted of rooms to rent at a private residence, is said to have existed on the plaza’s southeast corner of Shelby Street (now called the Old Santa Fe Trail) and San Francisco Street. However, this inn could have been describing a prior form of the Exchange Hotel or the Palace of the Governors, New Mexico’s seat of government since about 1610; the Spanish had incarcerated Pike at the Palace of the Governors for trespassing on Spanish soil.

In 1821, Mexico became independent of Spain, and the Santa Fe Trail was established between the state of Missouri and Santa Fe. This was the beginning of east-to-west trade links. Santa Fe was finally completely opened to the outside world with the United States’ acquisition of the Southwest; the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican-American War formalized this ownership in 1848.

The first documentation for a commercial fonda in Santa Fe is from a second-hand account in 1885 concerning the informants’ parents’ settlement in Santa Fe, some 40 years before. James and Mary Donoho arrived in Santa Fe in August 1833 from Missouri and, apparently soon after, took up the hotel business, which was logical given the increased merchant traffic on the Santa Fe Trail at that time. The location of the hotel the Donohos ran until 1837, when they left because of unsettled conditions, is unfortunately not clearly documented. It is conjectured that it may well have been a converted house that operated much like a modern-day bed-and-breakfast located where the present-day La Fonda Hotel stands. A house called Los Estados Unidos (the United States) is listed on 1836 property records and also could well have been the establishment run by the Donohos. A house also called Los Estados Unidos, more than likely the same house, was subsequently remodeled and became the Exchange Hotel, the subject of this book’s first chapter.

The title Santa Fe’s Historic Hotels seems about as straightforward as it can be, but this is Santa Fe, New Mexico, so you can be certain that, whatever the story is, it is layered, not at all what it appears, and that there is much more going on than what is on the surface. So let us take a close look at the title.

Geographically, this book is restricted to within three leagues (the Spanish measurement of distance equal to an hour on foot) from the center of the Santa Fe Plaza, the heart and center of this old city. The original city limits of Santa Fe were a square two leagues on a side. That allows us to reach Bishop’s Lodge, a nearly 100-year-old resort, as well as the dude ranch Rancho del Monte, which is now a luxury resort called Rancho Encantado. While both are out in the country, they also both advertise as being in Santa Fe and are both in close proximity to the Santa Fe Opera. Not included is Fred Harvey’s El Ortiz Hotel (1910–1943) in Lamy, 20 miles to the east; see Arcadia Publishing’s Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest by Richard Melzer for pictures and a discussion of El Ortiz. Lamy is the closest point to Santa Fe passed by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (AT&SF) Railway main line.

The four commercial lodgings addressed in this book, La Fonda, St. Francis (formerly De Vargas), Bishop’s Lodge, and El Rey Inn, are unambiguously hotels. However, some key historic components of these establishments were not originally associated with commercial lodging, like Lamy’s Chapel and several other buildings at Bishop’s Lodge. Also, for example, El Rey Inn was originally characterized as a Route 66 motor court rather than a hotel, although hotel is a much more accurate designation of today’s El Rey Inn.

There is often more to historic than meets the eye and that is especially the case with Santa Fe. So what is historic? The National Register of Historic Places Evaluation Criteria states that to be historic a property must (a) be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to broad patterns of our history, or (b) be associated with the lives of significant persons, or (c) embody distinctive characteristics of merit (in this case primarily architectural), or (d) have yielded important information pertaining to history. Certainly all hotels covered in this book can easily fit into one or more of these criteria to some extent. After all, Santa Fe as a city goes

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