Thursday, May 20, 2010

The End of the Santa Fe Trail

Just a few steps off the Plaza in Santa Fe are adobe shops and residences.

The buildings' architectural appearance and color present a uniformity to the area that is both soothing and welcoming.

Where color has been added, it has been through signage, mosaics, or posters. These splashes of color are relatively small and very tasteful.

Two of the most popular colors to pair with the adobe buildings are blue and turquoise. Once again, just the right touch of color.

Here even the simple black and white sign and white window frames and trim of the Sign of the Pampered Maiden stand out without being glaring.











In this block the designers seem to have relied on the row of trees to provide the dash of color to the row of adobe buildings. Walking along this block was very restful.

The number of adobe buildings and their architec-tural uniformity, however, served to mask La Fonda on the Plaza.

It was only the plaque stating that La Fonda was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preserva-tion that caught our attention. The adobe exterior hid the history of this gem.

"Historical records suggest that La Fonda on the Plaza sits on the oldest hotel corner in America. When Santa Fe was founded by the Spaniards in 1607, records show an inn--or fonda--was among the first businesses established at this location."

In 1821 when Captain William Becknell completed the first successful trading expedition from Missouri to Santa Fe–-a route which came to be known as the Santa Fe Trail--he enjoyed the hospitality at the inn.

The current La Fonda, built in 1922, sits on the same site as previous inns, literally at the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail and the Plaza--a haven for travelers for more than 400 years!

The inn’s pueblo-style architecture features special touches, such as hand-crafted chandeliers, tin and copper lighting fixtures and colorful tiles add character and charm.

La Fonda has always been a local gathering spot and a hub of activity. World War II journalist Ernie Pyle wrote, “You could go there any time of day and see a few artists in the bar…a goateed gentleman from Austria or a maharajah from India or a New York broker… You never met anyone anywhere except at La Fonda.”

In 1925, the new building was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and then leased to Fred Harvey who turned La Fonda into one of the famous Harvey Houses.

It remained a Harvey House until 1968, when it was acquired by local businessman, Sam Ballen.













The elevator seemed very inviting, but it was time for lunch and our pizza search continued.