Answer to psychic question:
No correct answers on this one. Acequia Madre, or Mother Ditch, was used to disperse water to other areas of Santa Fe. In each neighborhood someone was assigned to open the gate and allow the water to flow along the ditch until it came to the next gate. The Acequia Madre is still operable. Here’s a link to the Santa Fe New Mexican story on the ditch:
The Plaza: Heart and Soul of Santa Fe
In the Pueblo Tewa language, the word bu-ping-geh, translates to “center-heart-place.” That describes Santa Fe’s central plaza well. Town plazas were the social network of times gone by—no wireless network needed. This public square was designed by Spanish soldiers a decade before Plymouth Rock saw its first Pilgrims. Originally, it was larger, extending all the way to what would be the location of the St. Francis Cathedral. Not surprising, the plaza is on the National Register of Historic Places
Anything and everything important happened at the plaza. Residents gathered there to celebrate when Mexico achieved its independence from Spain. It was also here that the town’s people learned the United States had annexed them and they were now going to be called New Mexico. The citizens of Santa Fe were not amused.
Today, the plaza is home to the famous Indian and Spanish Markets, fiestas, concerts, holiday lights, and the first place visitors want to see. When a Santa Fe newbie stops me and asks, “Where’s the plaza?” I usually think amateur, and smile remembering when I first looked for the plaza years ago.
For our Reluctant Medium, Rachel Blackstone, the plaza is a special place. While some locals avoid it, because of tourism, Rachel adores it because of the mix of residents and international visitors. It draws her as she walks from appointment to appointment passing by the Palace of the Governors with a quick hello to those she knows. She and friend Chloe loved drinks on the Ore House balcony, before the restaurant closed, and Rachel, along with her co-workers at High Desert Country have pick-up meetings at La Fonda. And of course, The Shed restaurant is a short block off the plaza.
West San Francisco is one of the Reluctant Medium’s favorite streets in Santa Fe. The Lensic Theater is here and has been beautifully restored and transformed into the city’s performing arts center. More on it another time. Restaurant Tia Sophia’s is also along the way. Breakfasts are great and affordable–lunch too. As we walk along this narrow street, the St. Francis Cathedral becomes more and more apparent.
Now, we’ve come to the intersection of San Francisco and Lincoln Avenue. We
have arrived. You’ll notice the plaza shows off Pueblo, Territorial and Spanish architecture. If we make a right and go upstairs, there’s a great place to eat called San Francisco Bar and Grill. It has had several incarnations in Santa Fe, but Rachel Blackstone likes this one best. Rachel’s favorites here are the Tuna Niçoise and Mediterranean salads.
Below is the Plaza Bakery-Haagen Dazs. There’s never a bad time for ice cream and fresh-baked goodies. It’s good to announce the Plaza Café on Lincoln has reopened after a long absence to renovate. This is the first meal for many visitors to the City Different. Welcome back.
Throughout the plaza you’ll find a drug store, jewelry, pottery, clothing and culinary stores, a bank, the New Mexico Museum of Art at one corner and La Fonda at another. Dominating the north side is the Palace of the Governors, although it doesn’t look much like a palace as compared to some in Europe. It has an enthralling history which we’ll cover in the future. The tunnels and holes that were dug in the floor are endlessly fascinating. But the main attraction here for visitors is the American Indian artwork that is sold on the portal (porch) of the museum. Most of the artists are more than willing to talk about how they create it.
But let’s soak up the plaza at the moment. There are a few curiosities. The obelisk in the center is a war memorial. Some of the words are shocking. I was appalled when I read it. We can be thankful that reasoning, caring humans no longer think in such terms.
Music is a frequent accompaniment in the plaza. Not just in the bandstand, but musicians come to play their favorite instruments. One man brings his pets: a dog, a cat, and a rat. They all sit quietly one on top the other. We feel a little sorry for them, but they are well trained and you may take a photo, just ask first. These are the things that make the plaza the place to meet people and enjoy local color.
Two things we miss: the Ore House restaurant that had been a resident of the
plaza for decades. At one time they offered nearly 100 different flavored margaritas and the best place to people watch. Sigh. Also on the missing list are the flagstones the plaza used to have. Alas, it was rumored that people kept stealing the stones, so now it has grass which needs irrigation in this dry climate. During the summer, hanging baskets of exploding color brighten it even further.
The plaza is both a starting point and a jumping off point. It is a good place to just be. Grab a bench and enjoy. Mañana will take care of itself.
For more information on Santa Fe: http://www.santafe.org/
— G G Collins
Ghost Story of the Week
La Residencia, located at Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta, has been a convent, hospital and nursing home. It was the location of the first St. Vincent’s Hospital prior to the “new” hospital being built south of downtown during the late 1970s.
During its life as a hospital, a boy and his father were brought in for emergency treatment after a car accident. Sadly, both died. It is said the child died from his injuries in room 311. Reported phenomena include the sound of a crying child in this room. It was heard so often the hospital tried not to use the room.
When museum exhibits were stored in the building’s basement, unexplained sounds occurred there. Nurses described a strange phenomenon, which appeared to be blood oozing from a basement wall.
But it is the cries of a frightened young boy who haunt his third-floor room we find most disturbing.
For the answer, check back next Sunday.
Answer to last week’s psychic question: The 7-minute man. Gotcha! No one answered this one correctly.
The Shed: The Legend Continues
When thinking of Santa Fe, it’s easy to visualize azure skies, crisp mornings and The Shed. Located in Seña Plaza on Palace Avenue, across the street from St. Francis Cathedral, it has a prime location one block from the historical plaza. For almost 60 years, The Shed has been serving the best chile Hatch, NM can grow. Originally, it was only open for lunch. Lines were long, they can still be long, but the waiting is pleasant in the Prince courtyard where both residents and visitors alike wait with anticipation.
Reluctant Medium Rachel Blackstone and her friend Chloe Valdez, are
frequently found sitting at the bar enjoying both the margaritas and the food. Rachel prefers the house margarita (she thinks they’re the best in town), but Chloe gets the pomegranate version claiming it is healthier. It is certainly pink. Whether you chow down on green chile chicken enchiladas or one of Chloe’s favorites, garlic shrimp with calabacitas, all entrees come with garlic bread—not sopapillas. It’s tradition.
Seña Plaza dates back to 1692. After the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico, Captain Arias de Quiros was hailed as a hero. For his contributions he was given land just north of the cathedral. He farmed most of the property and lived in a small house, which no longer exists.
Later, Don José Seña built a 33-room hacienda, situated around a large courtyard. He and his wife Doña Isabel had 11 children and they occupied all but the building on the north side of the courtyard which housed the livestock and servants. The structure was so large that it was temporary home to state government after a fire burned the capitol building in 1892.
There are two other haciendas, with courtyards, in Seña Plaza: Trujillo Plaza which housed the office of the Manhattan Project during WWII and the L. Bradford Prince home which is where The Shed is located, hence Prince courtyard.
William Penhallow Henderson, artist and builder, remodeled the large structure in 1927, enlarging the courtyard, adding a second story to the back of the U-shaped hacienda. In Chris Wilson’s book The Myth of Santa Fe, he writes: “To unify the old and new portions, he developed a stylized vocabulary of light stucco heavy posts and lintels, and a Territorial style brick dentil coping.”
Fast-forward to the most recently completed century. The Carswell family
moved to New Mexico from Illinois, after a stop in Carmel. The artsy family learned New Mexican cooking from their Hispanic neighbors and decided to open a restaurant circa 1952, with an official opening of July 4, 1953. The location was in Burro Alley. It was literally the shed where both burros and wood was kept. There were 22 seats in this first incarnation.
In 1960, The Shed moved to its current location. As time and space has allowed, it has expanded to nine dining rooms, the bar and the anteroom where customers can wait. The entry includes a tiny kiva fireplace which puts out a surprising amount of heat.
Low-down: Watch your head as you enter the purple front door. We’re taller than our forefathers of the 1600s, so duck!
The Shed has garnered a slew of awards, although fans don’t need them to know what we like. These include the James Beard Foundation’s “America’s Classic Award” in 2003. The Food Network’s “$40 a Day” show with Rachael Ray, has featured it and New Mexico Magazine gave it their 2011 “Best Eats” nod.
The reasons for this are many. The colorful restaurant–with original art–is just plain fun, the staff is congenial and adds to the enjoyment, and then there’s the food. Red chile is ground fresh each day and the red chile sauce reflects this. Just try the carne adovado or the pollo adobo. The guacamole is smooth as butter, and of course, there is the award-winning Shed burger. The restaurant also has veggie options.
Don’t forget dessert. Our Reluctant Medium loves the zabaglione, a luscious Italian (yes, Italian) custard with cointreau and white port. Decadent. But oh my, then there is the mocha cake and the lemon soufflé. One can’t go wrong choosing any one of them.
The heart and soul of The Shed, is the three generations of Carswells who have put their all into the restaurant. Today Courtney Carswell and family continue the tradition of New Mexican cooking, blending the old and the new, the Mexican and Pueblo Indian cuisines. The queues show how successful this is. See you in line!
For more information on The Shed: http://sfshed.com/Restaurant.html
— G G Collins
Ghost Story of the Week
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa has probably the most famous of the Santa Fe ghost stories. Julia Staab who died in her prime at 52 reportedly haunts the hotel. It has been the subject of television shows such as Unsolved Mysteries and Celebrity Ghost Stories, and in print at The Dallas Morning News.
Abraham Staab had the three-story Staab House built in French-inspired styling which included a mansard roof and a ballroom on the top floor. It would become the hub of society in 19-century Santa Fe. But it would not last. The couple’s eighth child was ill and finally succumbed. Julia was never the same and took to her room, which became room 256 when the house was converted to a hotel.
During a construction project, a befuddled crew came to work one morning and found their building materials in disarray. An enlightened worker began leaving roses for Julia. The mischief ceased.
Other encounters have been more personal including sightings of a transparent woman in a long dress and hood. One man reported a woman’s image in the mirror of the men’s room. And in the basement, which retains its earthen floor and stone walls, an employee of the hotel has noticed a fragrance cloud of orange and rose blossoms.
Visitors to the six-acre resort still ask for room 256, but there was the case of one man who checked in, and returned to the front desk in minutes demanding another room.