View From the Plaza

Canstruction: Red or Green?

When we heard that Canstruction was coming to Santa Fe to benefit The Food Depot… how could we resist? We signed on as a sponsor. And what better team to build a “canstructure” than the team that brought you La Fonda’s renovations? Barbara Felix Architecture + Design, Bradbury Stamm and La Fonda!

To prep for the building competition our team had to come up with a design concept, a name, and go shopping for supplies.  Our Red or Green “canstructure” had to be built  out of nutritious food items.

The Shopping List

Name + Description:

Red or Green?

Did you know chile is a fruit and not a vegetable? For those of us living in New Mexico, we know that chile is much more than a fruit – it’s a way of life. It’s the perfect blend of our shared culture – Native American, Mexican, Spanish, and Anglo. It’s how we define ourselves as New Mexicans (red, green, or Christmas?) and how we come together over shared meals that are the very definition of New Mexico cuisine.

La Fonda, Bradbury Stamm, and BFA+D believe we CAN make a difference in ending hunger in Northern New Mexico by raising awareness through the creation of a simple, yet satisfying meal of spaghetti. Of course, adding a bit of vitamin C through the addition of green chile is a bonus, and unique to New Mexico.

Our team members included Barbara Felix, Sibylle Mueller and Denali Wilson from Barbara Felix Architecture + Design; Tiffanie Bradley, Adam Rael and Terra Garcia-Chang from Bradbury Stamm Corporation and Brandon Vandiver, Fermin Moran, Daniel Martinez and Avas Khan from La Fonda.


Photo by Daniel Martinez


Although our team had to do a little re-calculating during the “canstruction” phase, Red or Green went up with great teamwork and fanfare!

Uh oh. It got a little top heavy.

Uh oh. It got a little top heavy. Photo by Jayne Weiske

If you’d like to vote for our “canstructure” for People’s Choice, you can do so in person at The Santa Fe Place Mall (they’ll be on display through April 25th)  or visit The Food Depot’s website.


Finished! Photo by Jayne Weiske




Santa Fe Celebrates Summer of Color

Revisit your favorite galleries during the Summer of Color, in which museums and art galleries around Santa Fe explore the color spectrum. Visually inclined visitors are in for a treat as they feast the eyes on an artistic smorgasbord.

Red will be the theme at the Museum of International Folk Art’s Haute Flea party, opening night for the 6th Annual Folk Art Flea (May 2), a one-day bargain hunt for gently used folk art from around the world. The museum exhibit, The Red That Colored the World (May 17), will open with a reception, lecture, and art demonstration. Talks coming up at the museum include the use and significance of turquoise (April 6), and a critical look at traditional Southern pottery with ceramics critic Garth Clark (April 19).

Blue will be the theme at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, with Blue on Blue: Indigo and Cobalt in New Spain opening May 8, looking at the importance of the two dyes in the colonial era. The museum also opens a show of great Modernist photography set in Mexico and New Mexico on May 22.

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden is jumping in with Monarch—Orange takes Flight, a garden container show by the horticulture staff that invites you to vote for your favorites (May 20-Sept. 13). Our own Jenny Kimball is involved with the Summer Solstice Soiree, June 20, 6-8:30. It’s an elegant party with a spicy Latin flair which sold out last year, so get your tickets now!

The New Mexico Museum of Art is showing Colors of the Southwest through Sept. 20, and will take part in a worldwide Slow Art Day (April 11). Visitors are invited to look at preselected artworks for 10 minutes each, followed by a group discussion. On April 17, the museum opens an exhibit from the Joann and Gifford Phillips donation, focusing on California in the 1950s-80s and New Mexico in the 1980s. On May 1, three new photography exhibits open with a jazz concert in the auditorium.

The New Mexico History Museum opens Fading Memories: Echoes of the Civil War (May 1) as part of free First Friday artwalk. Visitors can “Decorate the Divine” in an all-ages art event based on the exhibit Painting the Divine (May 3). Upcoming lecture topics at the history museum include Fred Harvey and American Indian Art (April 19); collaborative artwork by the couple who curated Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography (April 26); the making of the Ken Burns classic The Civil War (May 8); weaver Elle of Ganado and Fred Harvey (May 17); and the restoration of the 1785 Roque Lobato House in Santa Fe (May 31).

In-depth conversations offered at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum will include the relationship between artists Charles Loloma and Lloyd Kiva New in the 1950s (April 8), and the tensions between modernist and pictorialist photography (May 13). On April 14, you can spend an evening exploring the dimensions of American Modernism with a curator; or create your own Modernist painting in watercolor, led by an artist (May 20). Register for O’Keeffe Museum events online.


Out & about

Head down to Santa Fe Place Mall April 11-25 to check out La Fonda’s canned-food sculpture entry in the Canstruction competition. Vote for us, and we hope to compete with 150 cities worldwide! All the food in our sculpture was donated by La Fonda, and will go to the Food Depot, the largest food bank in Northern New Mexico.

A number of local Pueblos will celebrate feast days in May, including San Felipe, Taos, Acoma, and Jemez, when the public is invited to come watch traditional dances and share in feast foods. Nearly all the Pueblos will have feast days on Easter weekend (April 3-5). Call ahead or check with the Concierge Desk for details.

Missing the old South? The 141st Run for the Roses is a Kentucky Derby Day celebration benefiting Habitat for Humanity, with champagne buffet and silent auction (May 2). If you’d rather do the racing yourself, join cyclists from around the country who converge on Santa Fe every spring for the Santa Fe Century bike ride along the historic Turquoise Trail (May 17). Even slow riders can roll with the fun at the preceding Santa Fe Bike & Brew Festival (May 13-17), which has multiple options for touring breweries at various speeds.

Art adventure heads outdoors in May beginning with the Passport to the Arts (May 8-10). Stroll historic Canyon Road during a weekend of openings, receptions, and events including Artist Quick Draw and live auctions all along the art district. The Eldorado Studio Tour takes place a short drive north of Santa Fe (May 16-17). At the Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival (May 23-24), more than 200 of the best and brightest Native artists invited by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture will offer artwork for sale at the Community Convention Center. All profit goes to support MIAC. And the Santa Fe Fiber Arts Festival comes to El Rancho de las Golondrinas (May 24-25).



The Lannan Foundation will host conversations at the Lensic between journalists Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic and Michele Norris of All Things Considered (April 8); playwright Wallace Shawn and Bookworm host Michael Silverblatt (April 15); author-journalist Naomi Klein and The Guardian editor Katharine Viner (April 29); and poets Claudia Rankine and Saskia Hamilton (May 6). Also at the Lensic, Father Greg Boyle will give his popular presentation on gang prevention and his organization Homeboy Industries (April 22). The Santa Fe Institute’s mind-expanding community lecture series continues with Alan Lightman, novelist and physicist currently at MIT, on whether science can prove the existence of God (May 6).



Stand-up comic John Mulaney comes to the Lensic (April 12), and Albuquerque’s Fusion Theatre Company presents The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh (April 26). Santa Fe’s own Wise Fool New Mexico will premiere CircAspire: The Circus of Lost Dreams, showcasing the work of its aspiring young circus performers, at the James A. Little Theater (three showings, May 1-2).

At the Lensic, Live in HD from the Stratford Festival comes King John (April 11), while Met Live in HD offers the classic double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (April 25, two shows). The Santa Fe Farmers Market series Movies That Matter will take a critical look at the school lunch program (April 18, 22), and urban farming in America (May 6, 20) at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, with discussion afterward. The Santa Fe Institute’s Science on Screen film series will show Jurassic Park at the Center for Contemporary Arts (May 3), presented by professor Liz Bradley of the University of Colorado.

Classical music

The symphony presents a concert of Sibelius, Brahms, and Dvorak (April 12), followed by its season finale, Verdi’s Requiem, with guest conductor James Feddeck and four world-class vocalists (May 16-17). Performance Santa Fe gathers Wu Han, David Finckel, Daniel Hope, and Paul Neubauer to play Schumann, Brahms, and Mahler (April 6); and the English chamber ensemble Academy of St. Martin in the Fields will interpret Brahms, Shostakovich, and Mendelssohn, both at the Lensic (May 11). The Takacs Quartet plays Haydn and Beethoven (April 16) at St. Francis Auditorium; and Santa Fe Pro Musica will have a Baroque Holy Week concert at Loretto Chapel (April 2-4). The New Mexico Performing Arts Society will close its season with a concert of Brahms Liebeslieder and Zigeunerlieder at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel (May 31).


Contemporary music

Flamenco ensemble La Juerga comes to El Museo Cultural (April 3). At the Lensic, L.A. punk band X will play a special acoustic showcase (April 7), the 15th annual Nuestra Musica showcases New Mexico folk music (April 10), Le Vent du Nord presents music from French Quebec (April 24), and American blues master Taj Mahal will play a benefit concert for KSFR (May 24). Fans of Astor Piazzolla will want to catch the Austin Piazzolla Quintet reinterpreting the tango master’s compositions at GiG Performance Space (April 18). Check out GiG’s full calendar of jazz- and world music-inspired shows, including Bay Area jazz quartet ROVA (April 23) and New York alto saxophonist Tim Berne (May 6).

Do You Know Olive Rush?

Recently, Barbara Felix and I had the pleasure of taking art historian Dr. Jann Haynes Gilmore on a tour of La Fonda in search of evidence of artwork by critically acclaimed modernist artist Olive Rush. Dr. Gilmore has been spending time in Santa Fe this month finishing research and edits on her upcoming book, a full biography of female artist Olive Rush, 1873-1966.

Rush was one of the first women artists to come to Santa Fe and live permanently. She first visited in 1914 and then purchased a home on Canyon Road in 1920. Dr. Gilmore believes Olive Rush is one of the most under-studied artists working in Santa Fe during that time period and hopes that her book will place her on her due platform as a successful and nationally known painter in Santa Fe.

Olive Rush may best be known by the general public for her mural work with the WPA in Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. But she came to New Mexico as an easel painter, working primarily in watercolor. She was given the first solo show for a woman artist in New Mexico at The Palace of the Governors in 1914, and she exhibited all over the United States.

So what, you may ask, is her connection to La Fonda? During the research phase for La Fonda’s recently completed renovations, Barbara Felix and I collected correspondence between Mary Jane Colter, Mr. Clarkson, and John Gaw Meem. In a letter dated January 28, 1929, Colter tells Mr. Clarkson that she has Olive Rush in mind for murals in La Fonda’s New Mexico room. Colter wanted the New Mexico room (one of the largest spaces for entertainment in New Mexico at the time) to be whimsical, fun and a wonderful space for dining. And so it was that Olive Rush was commissioned to paint the murals. She completed the murals in May 1929 and a large gala was held to debut the finished work, complete with entertainment by the La Fonda Orchestra and a veritable who’s who guest list of luminaries in the Land of Enchantment. After much investigation from every angle, Barbara and I came to the sad conclusion that the Olive Rush murals in the New Mexico room had been painted over at some point and subsequently, the walls they were on had been destroyed. There are rough sketches of her New Mexico room work in the Archives of American Art (part of the Smithsonian Institute) but they are pencil sketches that have dimmed over time so it’s hard to know exactly what they might have looked like.

There are some indications that Olive Rush may have painted some of the windows at La Fonda, too. The only one that remains that might be her work is lit and displayed in the New Mexico room.  In Dr. Gilmore’s opinion, if they are her work, they have been sort of worked over and are not her originals.

Possibly the work of Olive Rush, but art historian Dr. Jann Haynes Gilmore believes that if they are, they were worked over by someone else and are not original.

Possibly the work of Olive Rush, but art historian Dr. Jann Haynes Gilmore believes that if they are, they were worked over by someone else and are not original.

Although her work is no longer at La Fonda, the opportunity that Mary Jane Colter afforded her here led to another lasting legacy. Chester Faris, the Superintendent of the Santa Fe Indian School 1931, saw Rush’s murals at La Fonda and asked her to paint murals on the dining walls of the SFIS. Rush told him that she would not paint the murals, but she would teach the Native American students to paint their own murals. Many young Native American artists at the time, including Pablita Velarde credit Olive Rush with being their first mentor. She taught some of the most successful Native artists of the early 20th century and between 1931-33, helped in showing their work in Washington DC, New York and Chicago’s Century of Progress Expo 1933.

There is one prominent place in New Mexico where you can see the work of Olive Rush and some of her students. If you stop by Skip Maisel’s on Central Avenue (Route 66) in downtown Albuquerque, you’ll see the murals John Gaw Meem commissioned for the building by Rush, Pablita Velarde and others. If you look closely, you can still see the signatures on their work.

Murals commissioned by John Gaw Meem at Skip Maisel's in Albuquerque.

Murals commissioned by John Gaw Meem at Skip Maisel’s in Albuquerque.

Dr. Gilmore plans to have her published book on Olive Rush available in 2016. If any of you have additional information about Olive Rush’s time here in New Mexico, please feel free to leave it in the comments here and I’ll be happy to pass it along to Dr. Gilmore.

My Top Picks for a Girlfriends Getaway in Santa Fe

I am incredibly fortunate to live in Santa Fe and my out-of-state girlfriends are lucky I live here, too. No matter what time of year they come to visit me, I have a plan! So if you’re planning a girls getaway to Santa Fe, here are some of my Santa Fe-vorites!

#1 Shop ‘til You Drop

There’s a reason Santa Fe was voted tops in shopping in the USA Today #10Best Readers Choice Awards. From southwestern flair, to the artistic and chic, you’ll find it in Santa Fe.

My first stop is always Shiprock Santa Fe on the plaza. Their collection of historic and contemporary work by Native American Artists is top notch and there’s always something new. Next stop? Lucchese – because a girl can never have one too many pair of boots. If you’re going to buy a pair of boots, you’ll need some turquoise jewelry and Rocki Gorman’s “dare to be different” designs will help you stand out from the crowd. What’s a girlfriends’ getaway without sparkle? Things Finer has everything a girl could ask for when it comes to glitter – both antique and contemporary jewelry.  A day of shopping downtown would not be complete without a visit to Street Feet. If you’re looking for the latest shoe styles, look no further, but beware, you just might walk out with a new pair for every day of the week!

In the summer time, I love checking out the The Flea at The Downs. The market boasts that you never know who you might run into there… everyone from Tom Ford to the set designer for A&E’s Longmire! The Flea is open May through September. But, if you don’t visit Santa Fe in the summer time, don’t fret. You’ll want to check out the Traveler’s Market open year-round at the DeVargas Mall featuring forty-three galleries of art, clothing and jewelry made by global artists.

Is art more your cup of tea? Then a walk up Canyon Road is in order. If you’re interested in paintings, stop in to McLarry Fine Art to see my friend Lael Weyenberg’s work. Downtown you’ll want to spend time at the Blue Rain Gallery gazing upon the work of some of the finest contemporary Native American artists in the country, including one of my favorites, Mateo Romero. (We have several of his paintings in the hotel collection).

#2 Food, Food, Food

I may be biased but you can’t go wrong with breakfast, lunch or dinner at La Plazuela. The Blue Corn pancakes at breakfast are to die for, the Heirloom Tomato Salad is perfect for lunch but will make you feel like you can cheat and order dessert, and the table-side guacamole at dinner is a sure crowd pleaser.

Tia Sophia’s is a sure bet if you’re in the mood for a breakfast burrito – it’s one of Giada de Laurentiis’ favorite stops for a hearty breakfast. The Shed processes its own chile, daily and you’re sure to have a lively discussion about which is better… the red or the green? The Santa Fe Bar and Grill is a top lunch spot featuring burgers, chicken and meatloaf with a southwestern flair and local ingredients. If you’re in the mood for fine dining at lunch, Santa Café is the place The New York Times called “a restaurant to love”.

#3 Get Some Air

After all that eating, you’ll definitely want some exercise. And, since Santa Fe is one of the top 10 cities with the cleanest air in America – what better way to work off those calories than in the great outdoors? My go-to hiking spots are either the Dale Ball Trails or the trails near the Santa Fe Ski basin. The Dale Ball Trails includes 22 miles of trail in the beautiful foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains and is appropriate for both beginner and advanced hikers. If you’re here when the aspens change color, you’ll want to drive up to the ski basin and walk the Aspen Vista Trail – easy and beautiful.

If you’d rather ride than walk… head out on horseback. The Stables at Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa offer guided rides.

Great sisters ride on Aspen Vista. Love being together and in such gorgeous scenery.

Great sisters ride on Aspen Vista. Love being together and in such gorgeous scenery.

#4 An Afternoon on Museum Hill

You can make an entire day of it on Museum Hill. Take a morning tour of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden (in summer they open at 9am) when the light is just right for beautiful photos, enjoy lunch at the Museum Hill Café and spend the afternoon engrossed in the collections and special exhibitions at the Museum of International Folk Art and the Wheelright Museum of the American Indian.

If you’re thinking about a girlfriends’ getaway to Santa Fe, you’re in good company. Travel + Leisure says Santa Fe is one of the best cities for girlfriend getaways. Because of that, La Fonda offers a Girls Love La Fonda package. I hope you’ll stay with us and take advantage of all our beautiful city has to offer you and your friends!

Spring in Santa Fe

Enjoy the revival of spoken-word entertainment this spring as a plethora of comedians, soliloquists, and nationally known speakers pay tribute to Santa Fe’s sophisticated tastes. Music also spans the globe in a wide-ranging menu of choices worthy of a much larger metropolis.


Spoken-word talent coming to the Lensic this spring includes Dan Hoyle with his new monologue Each and Every Thing (March 21), veteran actress Linda Purl performing Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking (March 28), rising stand-up star John Mulaney (April 12), and Albuquerque’s Fusion Theatre Company presenting The New Electric Ballroom by Tony Award winner Enda Walsh (April 26). Also, American flamenco artist Jesus Muñoz introduces a fresh blend of American and Spanish influences with his new show ERA (March 8).

Teatro Paraguas opens the upbeat family comedy Not Quite Right by Elaine Jarvik and Los Alamos playwright Robert F. Benjamin (March 1, 6-8), then offers a celebration of the poetry and prose of Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda (March 20-29).

A new Live in HD series comes to the Lensic with King Lear broadcast from the Stratford Festival in Ontario (March 7), followed by King John (April 11). Meanwhile, the Met Live in HD offers Rossini’s La Donna del Lago (March 14, two shows), and the classic double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (April 25, two shows).

Outdoor enthusiasts can catch the Banff Mountain Film Festival, outdoor action films from the 2014 Canadian festival, at the Lensic (March 9-10). The Santa Fe Farmers Market 10th annual “Movies That Matter” series screens a story of seeds (March 21, 25) and the Lunch Hour (April 18, 22), followed by discussion and Q&A.



The Lannan Foundation has a quartet of provocative conversations coming up at the Lensic: Noam Chomsky with Alternative Radio founder David Barsamian (March 18); journalists Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic with Michele Norris of All Things Considered (April 8); playwright Wallace Shawn with Bookworm host Michael Silverblatt (April 15); and author-journalist Naomi Klein with The Guardian editor Katharine Viner (April 29). Separately, nationally known speaker Father Greg Boyle will speak about gang prevention and his organization Homeboy Industries in a presentation by Santa Fe İYouthWorks! (April 22).

Fans of the radio show This American Life might not mind trekking to Albuquerque to hear Ira Glass talk about the reinvention of radio at Popejoy Hall (March 8). Data scientist Alex Pentland talks about “The Goodness of Social Networks” in a free talk at the James A. Little Theater from the Santa Fe Institute (March 11). And you can learn what it takes to be an opera singer in a program from the Santa Fe Opera Guild (March 19).


Classical music

Opera star Susan Graham performs Schumann, Mahler and more (March 12) at Lensic Performing Arts, where Van Cliburn winner Sean Chen will join the Santa Fe Symphony in a celebration of Beethoven (March 15) and the symphony will honor Sibelius, Brahms, and Dvorak (April 12). Les Violons du Roy, a chamber orchestra from Canada, performs an evening of Lully and Haydn (March 22).

Shakespeare is the theme of an operatic concert to benefit the New Mexico Performing Arts Society (March 7). Explore the world of the Celtic harp at a concert at Unity Santa Fe (March 7). Performance Santa Fe presents musical friends Wu Han, David Finckel, Daniel Hope, and Paul Neubauer playing Schumann, Brahms, and Mahler at the Lensic (April 6), and the internationally known Takacs Quartet from Colorado playing Haydn and Beethoven (April 16) at St. Francis Auditorium. Also at St. Francis, the Brentano String Quartet will perform a program of Haydn, MacMillan, and Schubert (March 8) from Santa Fe Pro Musica, which also plans a Baroque Holy Week concert at Loretto Chapel (April 2-4).

At Temple Beth Shalom, conductor Joseph Illick will explore the work of Leonard Bernstein (March 17) in one of his popular piano talks.


Contemporary music

Music from around the continent comes to the Lensic this spring, from the Santa Fe multi-musical pair Round Mountain, playing with local students (March 13); to folk singer Martin Sexton (March 16); the high-energy country-rock fusion band The Mavericks (March 23); Jeff Tweedy of Wilco with his 18-year old son (March 26); Hawaiian fusion band Hapa (March 29); and folk icon Arlo Guthrie (March 31).

In April, Grammy Award winner Mary Chapin Carpenter plays a benefit show at the Lensic for the Espanola Valley Humane Society (April 1); the 1980s L.A. punk band X plays a special acoustic showcase (April 7); the 15th annual Nuestra Musica celebrates New Mexico folk music (April 10); and Le Vent du Nord brings interpretations of music from French Quebec (April 24), all at the Lensic.

At Skylight Santa Fe, visiting national acts include singer-songwriter Jackie Greene touring with his band (March 15); the multicultural Nahko with his band Medicine for the People (March 20); Hurray for the Riff Raff from New Orleans (March 30); and Latin Funk sensation Orgone (April 4).

World music coming to GiG Performance Space includes the Leni Stern African Trio, combining West African sounds with contemporary jazz (March 7); the Celtic fusion band Runa (March 12); and the multicultural Taraf de Locos (March 20). Check out the intriguing schedule of visiting bands at the GiG website, from jazz-funk to Nuevo Tango to Latino-Carribean neo-folk.


At the museums

A visit to the New Mexico History Museum’s new permanent exhibit, “Setting the Standard: The Fred Harvey Company and Its Legacy,” is a great way to understand the place of La Fonda and Santa Fe in the development of Southwest tourism, as the hotel donated a fair number of pieces in the exhibit. The museum runs a seminal series of free (with admission) lectures on topics like black tourism on Route 66 (March 11), a discussion of 18th-century harpsichord music (March 15), a film about African American women in World War II (March 29), the history of the Santuario de Chimayo (April 1), and Fred Harvey and American Indian Art (April 19).

At the New Mexico Museum of Art, celebrate the 330th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (March 21), then learn about the Real Housewives of the Santa Fe Trail (March 25).

At the Museum of International Folk Art, the cultures of New Mexico share a musical showcase (March 15), free with admission. Face jugs of the American South are the subject of a lecture and demonstration (March 22), and a critical look at the state of traditional Southern pottery with critic Garth Clark (April 19). The use and significance of turquoise is the topic April 6.

At the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Tina Modotti’s Mexican photographs are explored March 11, and the education annex offers a workshop in landscape painting (March 25).


Out & about

Enjoy the last of the snow at the 10th Annual Tessa Horan Ascension Race, an endurance event at Ski Santa Fe (March 21). If the snow has melted, the renovated Glorieta Camps offers overnight adventures (zip line, four-story rappel, etc.) and a concert from Josh Garrels (March 21). Bead Fest 2015 comes to the Santa Fe Convention Center (March 19-22) with workshops and an expo. Billed as the largest of its kind, the Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest comes to the state fairgrounds (Expo New Mexico) in Albuquerque (March 21-22). And the Japanese cultural festival takes over the Santa Fe Convention Center (March 28) with food, music, art, and ceremonies.

Behind the Scenes: Santa Fe’s Scottish Rite Temple

UPDATED: Want to tour the Scottish Rite Temple? Saturday, March 7th is your chance. The Masons Montezuma Lodge #1 will host an open house with tours at 10:30am, 11:30am and 12:30pm starting in the auditorium. For more info, check out this article by Ann Constable in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The Scottish Rite Temple at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Washington Avenue is one of the most distinctive buildings in Santa Fe. Its architectural style, pink exterior and the fact that it was built by Free Masons all add to its mystique. How many times have you driven by it and wondered what tales it could tell? Me too! Which is why I was thrilled to be invited by Cornerstones to take a private tour of the inside!

Masonic Backgrounds

Photo by Antonio Lopez.



The building is considered Moorish revival and was designed by the Hunt & Burns architectural firm out of Los Angeles. It’s said that they modeled it loosely on the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain. In fact, the entrance tower looks like the Alhambra’s Gates of Justice. Construction began in 1911 and was completed in November 1912 – the same year New Mexico became a state. When I think about what the downtown area in Santa Fe must have looked like at that time, I imagine how much the outline of it changed with the addition of both the Scottish Rite Temple in 1912 and La Fonda in 1922!


Photo by Jayne Weiske.



George Watson, a mason and member of the lodge served as our tour guide and shared some fun facts about both the inside and outside of the Temple. The backdrops in the auditorium used by the fraternity for scripted rituals (complete with costumes & props), were made by a group in Chicago and were only designed to last a few years. However, because of Santa Fe’s climate and the fact that they are stored upright above the stage… they have lasted for 90 years! There are no hydraulics, just old-fashioned ropes and pulleys to change the stage scenery.

One of the original stage scenery backdrops.

One of the original stage scenery backdrops. Photo by Jayne Weiske.


The systems of ropes and pulleys to change the scenery backdrops.

The systems of ropes and pulleys to change the scenery backdrops. Photo by Jayne Weiske.

I enjoyed seeing the cabinets used to store costumes. They were donated by Tom Moore who owned Moore’s on the Plaza and happens to stop into La Fonda for coffee frequently!

Masonic Costumes

Photo by Antonio Lopez.



One of the other facts that sparks the imagination is that there are bodies under the steps in a special crypt. Harper Samuel Cunningham and his wife, Evaline as well as Martin Ferguson are interred there. Cunningham was a Mason and helped raise funds for the Temple as well as the Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma. He was supposed to be buried in the Temple in Guthrie but health officials there refused to allow a body to be interred within the city limits. Ferguson was also a Mason and an artist best known for the design of Bacardi rum’s classic label.

Entry to the crypt.

Entry to the crypt. Photo by Jayne Weiske.


But now for the big question… and one I just had to ask… why was it painted pink? It was not originally that color. When built, the exterior was more of an ox-blood red or earthy terra cotta color. George told us that when the aging exterior was repainted, it was supposed to match the original. But after the first coat was applied, the manager of the local Wellborn Paint store came down to take a look at it, and saw that it had dried to a pink color instead. He offered to replace it, but passed away before he could make good on the offer. The members did not want to bother his widow with the issue and so the pink remained.


The building had been for sale but was recently taken off the market. The Hall of Honor continues to be the setting for private and civic events. If you are lucky enough to attend an event at the Temple you’ll be in for a treat. The stained glass chandeliers are said to be attributed to none other than Louis Comfort Tiffany!