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Discover the La Posada de Santa Fe with its Native American design and artistic flourishes.

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La Posada de Santa Fe a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019, dates back to 1882.


La Posada resort in Santa Fe has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019, and is among the most exclusive destinations in New Mexico. La Posada Hotel's history harkens back to a German émigré named Abraham Staab and his wife, Julia. Abraham had specifically arrived in Santa Fe in the mid-1850s, after taking the arduous journey along the Santa Fe Trail with his family. He soon began working for the prominent Speigelberg Brothers, before forming his own merchandise enterprise with his brother, Zadoc. Their company—Zadoc Staab and Brother—became the largest wholesale distributor in the entire territory. At the height of its prosperity, the two brothers were earning a collective annual revenue of $600,000—more than $14 million in today’s money! With his newfound wealth, Abraham began building a magnificent three-story brick mansion along the storied Palace Avenue in 1882. By this point, Abraham Staab had married another German named Julia Schuster, and the two had started raising a family of six children together. By constructing the mansion, Staab had fulfilled an earlier promise that he had made to his wife on their wedding day. Abraham had specifically vowed to raise a fantastic mansion within which they could raise their children. Taking a mere few months to complete, the structure featured Second Empire-style architecture and an iconic mansard roof.

Needless to say, Julia was overjoyed. Not only was the house an architectural masterpiece, it contained some of the best décor in the Territory of New Mexico. Its furnishings and structural details impressed all who saw it. The Staabs spent many years entertaining both national dignitaries and members of Santa Fe’s high society from the confines of their grand mansion. As such, the two quickly formed friendships with many noteworthy individuals, including the Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. Soon enough, the Staab House had developed a strong reputation for the central role it played in Santa Fe’s social circles. Abraham had also risen to become part of the ruling elite, serving on the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce for many years as one of its most respected members. But they also had two other children while living in their gorgeous Second Empire-style home, although one—a daughter—died as an infant. Julia struggled immensely with her pregnancies, suffering from bouts of depression and physical illness. Abraham did everything he could for his beloved wife, even sending her on trips to some of the world’s best health resorts back in their native Germany. Nevertheless, Julia Staab did not recover, and passed away in 1896. Abraham continued to live in the house alone for more than a decade, though, curtailing his involvement in Santa Fe’s sociopolitical climate.

Abraham Staab eventually died in 1913, leaving the building without an heir. After a period of fluid ownership, Lawrence and Edna Elliot acquired the historic Staab Mansion in 1920. The Elliots lived in the house for a decade, raising their own family while operating the Montezuma Hotel further into town. Yet, the financial hardships of the Great Depression destroyed the couple’s business, forcing them to leave Santa Fe for good. Then, in 1936, Harold and Eulalia Nason purchased the location. Along with the Staab Mansion, the Nasons purchased six acres of land from the neighboring Baca family as well as the historic, 17th-century pueblo structures that resided onsite. As such, the Nasons decided to develop these buildings together into a single, unique resort complex. They incorporated the Staab Mansion together with the adobe casitas to form the basis of their budding holiday retreat. Shortly thereafter, the Nasons constructed a series of Spanish Colonial Revival-style lodgings around the mansion with the same kind of materials used exclusively by the region’s Native American population some several hundred years prior. They subsequently named the hotel “La Posada,” Spanish for “inn” or “resting place.”

The elegant complex brilliantly embodied the historic, multicultural character of Santa Fe, making it a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. La Posada continued operating as one of Santa Fe’s preeminent vacation getaways, even after the Nasons sold the business in 1974. The hotel evolved over the next several decades, eventually becoming a massive resort when its new owners added an extensive array of additional facilities in the 1980s. Then, in 1997, a Dallas-based real estate firm called “Olympus Corp.,” acquired the destination and invested around $15 million into its complete renovation. The ambitious project specifically saw the addition of such amazing amenities, including a 5,000 square-foot spa and a 4,500 square-foot conference space. La Posada then joined Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2013, after another owner—Joseph C. Smith—formally partnered with the organization. Today, this magnificent historic location operates as the “La Posada de Santa Fe” to great acclaim.

  • About the Location +

    Santa Fe, New Mexico, is one of the most historic capital cities in America, founded around the same time the English first arrived in the Chesapeake Bay. While a tiny frontier outpost resided in the region as early as 1607, Santa Fe was not formally founded for another three years. The Spanish conquistador, Don Pedro de Peralta, had traveled north to the settlement and decided to transform it into an actual town. Peralta was the acting governor of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, which functioned as the colonial administrative region for the Spanish lands that resided between the provinces of Texas and California. He subsequently called the new town “La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asis,” and declared it the capital of Nuevo México. Several new administrative buildings then emerged around a quaint central plaza, such as the Palacio de los Gobernadores (Palace of the Governors). The community continued to represent the authority of the Spanish Crown in Nuevo México for the next several decades, until an uprising by the local Pueblo people drove out the settlers in 1681. Poor treatment and scant political representation in the colonial administration had caused the revolt to occur, which successfully forced all the Spanish and Mexican settlers to flee as far south as El Paso. Don Diego de Vargas eventually recaptured all of Nuevo México nearly ten years later, leading to the repopulation of La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asis. Subsequent generations of colonial governors—as well as the population as a whole—adopted a policy that sought better cultural relations between the two societies, ushering forth a period of relative peace that lasted for more than a century.

    La Villa Real de la Santa Fé continued to operate as the main administrative capital for Nuevo México right up until the Mexican War for Independence erupted in 1810. After more than 11 years of hard fighting, Mexico seceded from the Spanish Empire to form its own nation. Santa Fe remained the capital of the region, even as it became a province of the newly independent Mexico. The town had grown into something of a city by this point, with several thousand settlers living within its boundaries. Its emerging commercial opportunities soon attracted traders from the United States, who started traveling to the area in large numbers. Their migration south became all the more easy when William Becknell constructed the 1,000-mile-long pathway known as the “Santa Fe Trail.” Americans quickly established makeshift shops all along the historic central plaza, making it a major economic center in Mexico’s frontier. The United States eventually seized the city—along with the rest of Nuevo México—following its victory in the Mexican-American War. Nuevo México was reborn as the “Territory of New Mexico” with Santa Fe serving as its capital. The new American administration had also taken to referring to the city simply as “Santa Fe,” although its original name remained unchanged. The town only kept growing, though, as its size expanded exponentially. Some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks appeared during this time, such as the great Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Then, in the 1880s, Santa Fe was connected to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, which caused an economic renaissance to transpire throughout the entire city. Yet, political corruption also spread across Santa Fe, with even some of the era’s greatest outlaws—like Billy the Kid—frequenting the area regularly.

    Fortunately—thanks in large part to the efforts of Governor Lew Wallace—federal administrators were eventually able to clean up the town. (Wallace was a Union war hero and author of Ben-Hur). Despite its brief time spent as a hive for criminal activity, people still continued to relocate to Santa Fe. Its importance to New Mexico’s political landscape remained intact, too, serving as its capital when it finally became a state in 1912. Yet, some of the new arrivals were attracted to the city not only for its economic prospects, but its dry, warm climate. People suffering from tuberculosis particularly found the area’s environment intriguing, as it helped them combat the effects of their debilitating illness. Not long thereafter, regular Americans began heading south to the city upon hearing stories of its beautiful weather. As such, a vibrant tourism industry appeared to serve the influx of new travelers. Artists even began relocating to Santa Fe, inspired by the region’s desert landscape. Among the artists who spent time in the city in the mid-20th century was the iconic Georgia O’Keefe, who created many wonderful paintings of New Mexico’s geography. Those intellectuals developed a thriving community of art galleries and studios that has lasted well into the present. In fact, UNESCO has even recently included Santa Fe within its Creative Cities Network. Today, much of Santa Fe’s historic downtown is recognized collectively as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Some of the specific buildings themselves are identified as individually National Historic Landmarks, too, including the prolific Palace of the Governors. Around since 1610, it is the single oldest municipal building in the entire United States!

  • About the Architecture +

    When Abraham Staab constructed his brilliant mansion in 1882, he chose the French-inspired Second Empire-style architecture to influence its final appearance. Also known simply as “mansard style,” Second Empire architecture first emerged in Paris at the height of the reign of Emperor Napoléon III. Born Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, he was the nephew of the legendary Napoléon Bonaparte of the French Revolution. He rose to power by serving as France’s president before making himself its monarch by the middle of the 1800s. Nevertheless, his reign saw a brief restoration in French national pride that was accompanied by a cultural renaissance that affected everything from the arts to the sciences. One the areas that saw this development was architecture. Napoléon III had taken a particular interest with architectural projects at the time, going as far as to commission the complete redesign of Paris’ central cityscape. He subsequently appointed engineer Georges-Eugène Haussmann for the project, instructing the latter to create a new generation of buildings that could accommodate the city’s swelling population. Largely borrowing design elements from the French Renaissance of the 16th century, Haussmann essentially created a brand new architectural form that soon defined the appearance of Paris. While the project itself only lasted from 1853 to 1870, its impact was felt throughout the world for many years thereafter. Haussmann’s new form quickly appeared across France, as well as many other countries throughout Europe, including Belgium, Austria, and England. Furthermore, the architecture quickly emerged in North America, finding a popular audience in both the United States and Canada. Many hoteliers like Frank Jones saw the fabulous design aesthetics of Second Empire architecture, and copied it for their own structures throughout the remainder of the 19th century.

    Second Empire architecture was specifically meant for larger structures that could easily showcase its ornate features and grandiose materials. Architects, business owners and other professionals who embraced the form believed that it represented the best of modernity and human progress. This idea especially found an audience in the America, where society was largely perceived to be on an upward path of collective mobility. (In fact, the architecture had become so enmeshed in American society that some took to calling it “General Grant” style.) The form looked similar to the equally popular Italianate-style, in which it embraced an asymmetrical floor plan that was rooted to either a “U” or “L” shaped foundation. The buildings usually stood two to three stories, although some commercial structures—like hotels—exceeded that threshold. Large ornate windows proliferated across the facade, while a brilliant warp-around porch occasionally functioned as the main entry point. The porches would also have several outstanding columns, designed to appear smooth in appearance. Every window and doorway featured decorative brackets that typically sat underneath lavish cornices and overhanging eaves. Gorgeous towers known and cupolas typically resided toward the top of the building, too. Yet, Second Empire architecture broke from Italianate in one major way—the appearance of the roof. Architects always incorporated a mansard-style roof onto the building, which consisted of a four-sided, gambrel-style structure that was divided among two different slopes. Set at a much longer, steeper angle than the first, the second slope often contained many beautiful dormer windows. The mansard roof became a central component to Second Empire architect after Georges-Eugène Haussmann and his fellow French architects starting using it for their own designs. They had specifically sought to copy the mansard roof of The Louvre, which the renowned François Mansart had created back at the height of the French Renaissance.

    Yet, the current iteration of the structure reflects the aesthetics of Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture. This metamorphosis specifically occurred when Harold and Eulalia Nason transformed the Staab Mansion into a brilliant hotel in 1936. Subsequent renovations undertaken by successive owners have follows the Nason’s example. Also known as “Spanish Eclectic,” this architectural form is a representation of themes typically seen in early Spanish colonial settlements. Original Spanish colonial architecture borrowed its design principles from Moorish, Renaissance, and Byzantine forms, which made it incredibly decorative and ornate. The general layout of those structures called for a central courtyard, as well as thick stucco walls that could endure Latin America’s diverse climate. Among the most recognizable features within those colonial buildings involved heavy carved doors, spiraled columns, and gabled red-tile roofs. Architect Bertram Goodhue was the first to widely popularize Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States, spawning a movement to incorporate the style more broadly in American culture at the beginning of the 20th century. Goodhue received a platform for his designs at the Panama-California Exposition of 1915, in which Spanish Colonial architecture was exposed to a national audience for the first time. His push to preserve the form led to a revivalist movement that saw widespread use of Spanish Colonial architecture throughout the country, specifically in California and Florida. Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture reached its zenith during the early 1930s, although a few American businesspeople—including the Nasons—continued to embrace the form well into the late 20th century.

  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    Unsolved Mysteries: Season 7, Episode 2 (1994) Weird Travels

    The Haunting Of: Joe Pantoliano (2014)

    Weird Travels