Thursday, October 29, 2009

That Was Then... This Is Now

Recently I consulted on a project out in New Mexico up near the Taos area. While there, I spent a brief time in Santa Fe. I have always loved the unique qualities of Santa Fe and the opportunity to revisit had some pleasurable moments.

The first time I went to Santa Fe was over twenty years ago when I was an art director with the Horchow Collection. The trip was supposed to be shared by a couple of friends, but as the advertising world would have it, unmet deadlines prevented my two friends from going on the trip. I was determined to make the trip, even if I had to go it alone... and as it turned out, being alone gave me a whole different perspective and experience than if I had friends along. I had the best time!

Since I wanted to be in the heart of the town, where I could just get around on foot, my choice of accommodations was limited since I was on a very tight travel budget. My home of choice away from home was the De Vargas Hotel at 210 Don Gaspar Ave, around the corner from the town plaza. It was the type of place that you could tell had been at one time a very fashionable hotel, but the years had taken a toll on it. It had become a place of questionable reputation... and the "guests" were very interesting in a precarious fashion. I really do believe that it was trying to hang onto what little respect that it had left...

In retrospect, I wish that I had taken more photos of the hotel

Most of the guests were subject to sharing the bath facilities down the hall from the rooms. But, being that I was a single young (naive) lady traveling alone, I was given a room with my own en suite bath. Hey, the sheets and towels were clean... so what more did I need?

The De Vargas Hotel is quite historical. The original hotel was built in the 1880's, destroyed by fire, and rebuilt in the 1920's. During the 1930s and 1940s, when the state capitol was across the street, the hotel served as a popular gathering place for politicians. What I experienced was the shadow of a one time grand hotel. It still had the phone circuit board with the cords and plugs that required the assistance of an operator. Behind the hotel desk was a tall, dark and scary looking man... and to my relief,was extremely kind. No concern of Hitchcock type events here!

Tall, Dark... and Scary!

Enclosed Courtyard

Shortly after my visit there, the hotel was "renovated" into a Victorian style boutique hotel - how ghastly it must have been!

During my recent visit to Santa Fe I went by the old De Vargas Hotel to see what had transpired... and to my delight and amazement it was the day of their grand re-opening... as the St. Francis Hotel! The following photos are from their website:

The newly renovated spaces went through quite a transformation...

The new hotel desk is in the same corner as the original was

Enclosed Courtyard

Veranda or Colonnade of the front entrance

What a pleasure to see the old De Vargas Hotel re-invent itself into a beautiful space with the form, light and shadow being the dominant features. I have to say however, that their recently added photos to the website depicting their addition of accessories has taken away from the ethereal ambiance of the space... in this case less is certainly more!


  1. Hi Terri!
    This is a beautiful place! I love the bedroom. and the veranda. I haven't been to Santa Fe for years...........

  2. Merci pour votre message sur e-magDECO, je suis heureuse que ce nouveau magazine vous plaise ! bon week-end !

  3. Maryanne... Santa Fe has grown soooo much! I love all the new shops... but it has lost the quaintness in the process.

    Laeriss... thank you for stopping by. I hope that your new magazine will be in English soon!

  4. Beautiful! Love the old doors being used, stone fireplace, simple chandeliers, stone based columns. great before and after, Thanks. Trish

  5. What a lovely post! I have visited Sana Fe for a number of years and have never grown tired of it. I did not know the history of the St. Francis and love your images.I will be sure to either stay there or take a stroll through the lobby next time I am there. Thanks!

  6. What a transformation....thank you for visiting, xv.

  7. just love santa fe... it isnt as cool as it used to be but i still love going and cafe pasquel's is a must...the inn of the anasazi is my favorite place to stay...

  8. Thank you for stopping by Red Ticking... I love that name and your wonderful blog! Your store looks fabulous.

    Cafe Pasquels was the very first restaurant that I went to on my very first trip... it is just right across from the Hotel St. Francis. I ate there this last time I was there as well... had a good meal.

  9. I love Sante Fe and will remember this hotel next visit, thanks for posting the great photos.

    Your blog is beautiful and interesting. With a name like Countrypolitan, I must send you to see a recent post on my blog Hope you can visit.

    Kind regards,


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