Las Vegas, New Mexico. Hotels That Hold History, Part III

Posted on December 8, 2015

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As mentioned a post or two ago, we’ve continued last winter’s hotel hunt, which involved chasing Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls through the Southwest, seeing the spots where the West was settled “one meal at a time.”

Though my husband was kinda sick of the whole Fred thing, I was thrilled to have the chance to visit Las Vegas, New Mexico, because I’d score a two-fer; two Freds in or close to one city!

If you don’t know who Fred Harvey is, take a look at my posts from last winter. And keep up from now on!

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The La Castanada Hotel was designed in the then-popular Mission Revival style. It was built in 1898 by the Santa Fe Railway, who contracted the operation to Fred Harvey. It closed more or less for good in 1948, and other than a sporadic bar operation in one part of the huge building, it remained vacant.

nmlasvegasIts many years of vacancy speaks to the quality of construction back then, as today it is still in remarkable condition.

Which is a good thing, because it has been purchased by Allen Affeldt of La Posada fame and is being restored to its former grandeur.

Part of the restoration will include the installation of 950 pieces of original 1920’s furniture from another Harvey operated establishment, the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, which Affeldt purchased recently.

You can bet La Castanada will be filled with local and Southwestern art, and will be livened up by a Tina Mion or two, as she is Affeldt’s wife.

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Always strange,  but certainly colorful. Image credit: tinamion.com

 

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One thing making this Harvey House unique – I think – is the Rawlins building right across the street.

The Harvey Girls, who served in the dining room of La Castanada, were once housed dormitory-style in this building. It is vacant, but there are signs someone is trying to do something with it, and as long as they save that wonderful cast metal façade, I hope they succeed.

Last on castle2this winter’s hunt list was Montezuma’s Castle, located just a few miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The location was chosen by the Santa Fe Railway for a ‘destination’ hotel – La Castanada was more suited to the traveling public – because of the existence of natural hot springs on the site.

Built in 1886 in the ornate Queen Anne style with sculptural shapes and ornamented skin, this was a place for the well-heeled. While the hotel offered bowling alleys and other amenities, it was especially known for its variety of gambling opportunities, predating that other Las Vegas over in Nevada by a least 45 years.

It operated as a hotel only until 1903, then passed around from one owner to the next until purchased by Armand Hammer in 1981 for use as his Armand Hammer United World College of the American West.

We’re done with hotels for now. Next: Back to Louisiana.

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The Santa Fe Depot next to La Castaneda, restored and used both as an Amtrak station and as a welcome center for the City of Las Vegas.

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La Casteneda as seen from the Las Vegas Depot next door.

 

 

 

 

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