La Fonda, Haunted Hotel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

January 10, 2003

The first inn was built on this site soon after 1607, and was used as a courthouse, and often as a place of execution too. The 17th-century hotel has been replaced several times over the last 400 years, and frequented by hunters, outlaws, cardsharps, Civil War soldiers and generals, politicians, movie stars and one president. The current La Fonda dates back to 1922.

Known Deaths

There are some notable deaths recorded here. Judge John P. Slough had a political disagreement with a member of the legislature and called him a liar and a thief. Such an insult was not to be borne and shots were fired. The judge died of his wounds two days later, but seems unaware of this and restlessly paces the hallways. Slough had been expelled from the Ohio House of Representatives for striking another member in temper, and was unpopular during the Civil War and as a judge. His spirit seems sedate in comparison.

Unknown Deaths

In the early days those who were tried here and found guilty were hanged in the lobby. It’s possible that no records survive of their names. Another anonymous death was a man who may have been suspected of cheating at cards in 1857. Whatever he did, it wasn’t liked by the crowd, who lynched him and put him on the end of a rope in the backyard. A little more civilized than stringing him up in the lobby. La Plazuela restaurant, on the ground floor, is built over an old well and the story goes that a travelling salesman became distraught after losing the money he carried for his company. In desperation he jumped into the well. Diners and staff sometimes see this repeated as a ghostly figure appears, walk to the center of the room and jumps through the floor. A figure in a long dark coat or cloak has been seen in hallways and one reviewer of the hotel complained that there was repeated knocking on the door of the room, but no one was there when it was opened. No one visible, anyway

Well Known Living Stay at La Fonda too

La Fonda is the hotel in Spanish, and it surely is The Hotel in Santa Fe. Ernie Pyle, the war journalist, said, “You never met anybody anywhere except at La Fonda.” Robert Oppenheimer would meet physicists here, before taking them to the atomic bomb lab at Los Alamos. Errol Flynn, Greer Garson, Robert Duvall and a long list of other stars have been guests at La Fonda. The hotel is known for paintings, décor and furniture.