Thursday, December 29, 2022

HGB Ep. 467 - Old Town Albuquerque

Moment in Oddity - Fairy Chimneys

We have many adventurous listeners. Their ears may perk up at any reference to fairies or the supernatural. Some of these adventurers would love to spend some nights in a location such as this. It's like an Air B&B of a different sort. Located in Turkey, the Fairy Chimneys began their creation millions of years ago. This was when volcanic eruptions rained down ash in the area, which formed into rock covered by a layer of basalt. Once eroded by time the pillars revealed themselves, some as tall as 130 feet. The chimneys are located in a region once known as Cappadocia, which ran through the historic Silk Road trading route. This area was raided by the Hittites, the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Ottomans. They all wanted to claim the land. But it was during the Roman period that the persecuted Christians learned that they could easily excavate these 'chimneys' to created homes and churches. This area is now described by UNESCO as "one of the world's most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes." Today, tourists can even sleep in certain caves and chimneys, which have been remodeled into uncommon hotels. The contemplation of sleeping in such an amazing, historical location is intriguing, but it certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Clara Barton

In December, on the 25th, in 1821 the founder of the American Red Cross was born. Clarissa “Clara” Harlowe Barton helped distribute supplies to the Union Army during the Civil War. She was born the youngest of five children. As a teenager, Clara helped care for her seriously ill brother which was her first experience as a nurse. While still a young adult, she spent time inspiring pupils working as a teacher and even opened a free public school in Bordentown, New Jersey. When the Civil War began in 1861, Barton quit her current job and decided it was her calling to bring supplies to Union soldiers in need. This began her life-long career in aiding people during times of conflict and disaster. In 1862 she was granted permission to bring supplies to the battlefields and aided in every major battle in Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. In 1869, Barton traveled through Europe and while in Switzerland, she learned about the International Red Cross, established in Geneva in 1864. Upon returning to the United States, Clara began building support to establish an American Red Cross by writing pamphlets, lecturing and meeting with President Rutherford B Hayes. On May 21st, 1881, the American Association of the Red Cross was formed and Clara was elected president that June. In 1882, the United States joined the International Red Cross and Barton remained with them until 1904.

Old Town Albuquerque

Old Town Albuquerque is home to more than 150 shops, restaurants, galleries and museums. This community center was built centuries ago and features several blocks of historic adobe buildings. A handful of these locations are reputedly haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Old Town Albuquerque.

Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdes was born into a noble family in Spain in 1651. He got involved with politics and traveled over to New Spain in 1678 and served as an infantry captain. He was eventually appointed as a lieutenant governor and then he served as governor of Spanish Texas. He helped to found numerous missions before he became governor of New Mexico. He founded La Villa Real de San Francisco de Albuquerque in 1706, naming it for the Viceroy of New Spain who was the Duke of Albuquerque. The Spanish were far from being the first people in the area. Humans had been here for at least 10,000 years and when the Spanish arrived in 1540, the Tiwa people were living in pueblos along the Rio Grande. Governor Cuervo y Valdes had a hard time establishing Albuquerque because Spanish law required that 30 Spanish families be living in a new settlement before it could gain status as a village. The settlement only had 18, so the Governor ordered a Spanish garrison to be set-up nearby so that families would be attracted to the safety of the town. A mission church was also here, San Felipe de Neri. Irrigation canals were built and soon the few adobe houses grew to several hundred structures. 

New Mexico was under Mexican rule when Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. At the end of the Mexican-American War, America made New Mexico an official U.S. territory. A fort was then established in Albuquerque. This would be attacked and taken over by Confederates during the Civil War. After the war, a livestock industry grew up in the town and this brought in a railroad. And that's when the original part of Albuquerque became Old Town and the city center and government moved closer to the railroad depot. Albuquerque was incorporated in 1885 and although Old Town was no longer the center of business, it truly became the heart of the town. The Pueblo-Spanish style architecture is anchored by the white towers of the San Felipe de Neri Church, which was built in 1793 and has walls that are five feet thick. They wanted to make sure that this one did not collapse like the original mission church. Several locations in Old Town are reputed to be haunted!

Church Street Cafe

Church Street Café is also known as Casa de Ruiz, which means House of Ruiz and is the oldest residence in Albuquerque and one of the oldest structures in the state of New Mexico. This was originally built a little after the founding of the town in 1706 by the Ruiz family. That ancestor is unfortunately unknown today, but the house remained in the possession of the Ruiz family until 1991, when the final Ruiz owner, Rufina G. Ruiz, passed away at the the age of 91. The home was an 18-room hacienda with the classic Spanish U-shape. The walls are very thick, more than two feet thick, which was normal for the time that it was built. This protected against both cold and heat. Since it was located near the Rio Grande River, adobe bricks called Terrones were used in construction. The floors were tile and the ceilings were 15 feet high with wooden beams and there was a traditional ceramic fireplace/oven. In 1920, a major flood washed away half of the house, but it was rebuilt. Marie Coleman bought the house when Rufina died and she had a different vision for the dwelling. Marie was a college student taking a break to explore Albuquerque when she spotted the house and fell in love. She offered half the asking price and it was accepted. She renovated it into an upscale restaurant that offers indoor and outdoor dining with the ambiance of strolling guitar music, but it still retains much of the original interior.

Marie was the first person to report strange happenings in the house. It's quite possible the spirit she experienced was Sara Ruiz, the mother of Rufina, because it wasn't happy about the changes. Sara had been known around Albuquerque as a curandera or witch healer. At first Marie didn't believe in ghosts. Then Marie heard a disembodied voice scream at her to get rid of the contractor. The voice literally screamed, "Get him out!" When workers would come in to do work, they would find their supplies and tools in a disarray. Buckets would be kicked over. The main contractor was Charlie Trujillo, who was a healer and a bit of a psychic. He told Marie that she needed to sit down in the great room and have a conversation with Sarah, telling her about her plans and that she was going to keep much of the house the way it was. This seemed to quiet Sarah for a time, After the restaurant opened, employees and patrons started having unexplained experiences as well. They would sometimes glimpse the image of a woman in a long black dress who would disappear after being seen. This mostly happened after hours.Sarah loves to engage in light battles. Employees will turn on the lights and Sarah will flick them off. She drops water glasses, throws silverware and turns over coffee cups, once this was done in front of an entire table of patrons. Sarah also likes to feed her none existent chickens outside and sometimes helps with making up tables.

There could be other spirits here as well. A china closet at the entrance has dolls inside that get moved around. One time a server was in the ladies room when she felt a negative presence enter the restroom. The door in the next stall slammed hard twice, scaring the employee. A window that wouldn't budge near the front of the house was found opened. When the guests sitting at the table near it were asked if they opened the window, they said "no." The waitress closed the window and when she returned to the table later, the window was opened once again. The patrons again said that they hadn't opened the window. A phone at the restaurant was hidden and never found. An employee got grabbed from behind by someone he couldn't see. Sarah seems to be no nonsense, so nobody thinks this was her spirit. On occasion, when the opener gets to the restaurant, they find the state of the interior as if someone threw a party over night.

Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The chapel was built by nuns who made the adobe bricks themselves. They were led by Dominican nun Sister Giotto. It was built to give the students of Sagrada Art Studios a suitable place to pray as a group. Sister Giotto made four colored glass windows for the chapel and calls them her most significant body of work. Three are in storage, but the fourth can be seen today to the left of the entryway and features a representation of the sun and moon phases. Six wooden benches line the adobe walls in the sanctuary with hand carved Scripture verses on the chair backs. Our Lady of Guadalupe is considered the Patroness of the Americas and because the Spanish and Native Americans love her, the chapel was dedicated to her. The chapel is often used for weddings. You can find it in the Patio Escondido Mall. 

The chapel is home to what people claim is the scariest ghost in Old Town. This is the Lady in Black. She is often seen as a full-bodied apparition dressed in black, sitting on a bench. She is seen praying, meditating and sobbing. Not sure why that makes her scary, other than she just appears and disappears out of nowhere. Jeff Steam wrote in a comment on YouTube, "I've seen her. I swear. I walked in and was woman in a black veil praying. I stepped out because I wanted to give her privacy and I had an odd feeling. She never came out. I went back in and no one was in there. I found it odd but figured I somehow missed her. It was very strange and spooky. A few years later I learned the story of the woman and was shocked. I told no one because they wouldn't believe me. Also this is a special place. But I swear that I saw her."

Old Town Cafe

The La Placita Dining Rooms was a restaurant that had once been the home of the Armijo family and even a trading post. Juan Nepomuceno Armijo built the family house in 1706. The Armijo family was powerful and prominent. Manuel Armijo, who had lived in the house, was the last Mexican governor of New Mexico. The house went into ruin for awhile and became a restaurant in the 1930s and the open-air patio was enclosed, although a large cottonwood tree does grow through the roof. An old staircase was imported from Spain, so it could be used during a wedding. The La Placita permanently closed and was bought by Michelle La Meres who opened the Old Town Cafe in the location in 2022. Employees claim to see the spirit of a little girl who is believed to have died in a bedroom in the late 1880s. Cold spots are felt and employees clear to hear their names called out by a disembodied voice. Customers have claimed to see a weird mist take shape over their tables and then dissipate. Patrons claim to see the face of a young woman in the ladies restroom when there is no young lady standing there.

Bottger Mansion

The Bottger Mansion was built by the man for whom it was named, Charles Bottger. He was born in New York City and eventually made his way to Albuquerque around 1893. He found work at the Sunnyside Tavern, which was owned by Tom Post. Bottger married Post's stepdaughter, Miguela, and thus he became the owner of the tavern when Post passed away. In 1909, the couple demolished the tavern and built the Bottger Mansion, which was completed in 1912. The mansion was designed by Edward Buxton Cristy in the American Foursquare style and had all the modern amenities of the time. That meant that the mansion was the first residence in Old Town Albuquerque to have gas lighting. The house had a dumbwaiter, pressed-tin ceilings, a coal-fired cnetral heater and a speaker system using tubes. And it had a basement, which is almost unheard of in Albuquerque. The mansion was called the “Pride of Old Town.” Bottger also owned one of the first cars in Albuquerque. Bottger died in 1914 and Miguela found herself having to turn the mansion into a boarding house to make ends meet.

One of the renters was Machine Gun Kelly who stayed here with his girlfriend and members of his gang. They used assumed names and had disguised themselves by dying their hair and wearing different clothing. The group would pay a local boy to go out and bring them food. This made Miguela suspicious and she called the police, but a member of the gang heard her making the call and everybody left before the authorities got there. Elvis Presley stayed at the Bottger with his bandmates, Bill Black and Scotty Moore in 1956 when they did two performances in Albuquerque. Frank Sinatra attended a wedding at the Bottger and performed in the courtyard. The property remained in the Bottger family until 1970 when family disputes over ownership led to it being sold. The mansion passed through several hands and served as a restaurant, art gallery, beauty parlor and then in 1989 it became a bed and breakfast and remains that today. It has been restored to its original form and its location on Historic Route 66 makes it a prime place to stay. This is the only lodging to be found in the Old Town Historic District.  Steve and Kathy Hiatt are the current owners and have been for fourteen years.

Charles Bottger loved his home and is said to remain in the afterlife. But he isn't the only one here. There is a spirit nicknamed "The Lover" who likes to sit on the bed of sleeping women and a sighing female ghost. And people have also described an older female ghost that people called "Grandmother." Amazingly, with so many spirits here, there is not much to be found of personal experiences.

Painted Lady Bed and Brew

If we are ever in New Mexico, we know where we are staying! First, the website is Second, there is a little cartoon female ghost holding a beer mug at the top of the website. And finally, this is a Bed and Brew - such a unique and novel concept! There are only a few of these unique establishments in America. The name Painted Lady was inspired by the working gals of the former establishment here. The original building was constructed in 1881 and ran as a saloon and brothel, playing witness to many shootouts and knife fights. It came under the ownership of Cesario ‘Sario’ Gonzales in 1899 and he operated it as the Swastika Saloon. Now hearing that immediately makes one think Nazis, but this was way before they came on the scene. This was a Navajo symbol that meant life and prosperity and good fortune. The saloon quickly became a place of ill repute. People knew it as a dance hall with a Wine Room. At the time, Wine Room was code for brothel. The brothel thrived with the town having five men to every woman. Unfortunately, this was a crib style brothel, which we have covered on other episodes. Basically a room big enough to fit a mattress was where the women worked. Many of them serviced 50 men a day.

This business wasn't illegal. As a matter of fact, prostitution was legal in New Mexico until 1914. So, of course, the brothel closed down after that *wink, wink.* It actually ran illegally until Prohibition. The saloon had its own song and made headlines in local papers all the time. There was “Four Wounded in Cutting Affray, One May Die”; “Saloon Keeper is bound over to grand jury”; “Hold Knife man for stabbing at Swastika Saloon”; and “Co. Commission hears roadhouse complaints.”Sario shut down the Swatstika Saloon when Prohibition started and he died before Prohibition was repealed. His son Charlie opened up Charlie's Grocery here in 1930. And uh, the brothel was still there. Charlie ran this combo business until the late 1970s. The property then became a triplex with three apartments. Jesse Herron bought the building in 2014 and did a complete renovation. The Painted Lady Bed and Brew opened on August 3, 2018.

There were thought to be four spirits in the Bed and Brew. Some may have been exorcised. The most haunted room here was said to be the owner’s suite and Herron has had several experiences. Herron said he made a deal with one of the spirits in his suite saying, "Leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone." But Herron says the ghost didn't keep with the deal and started to torment Herron's dog making it "yelp in pain" and Herron noticed "bloody marks on his body, from being bitten or poked by something." We think this is what Herron describes as a Succubus on the website writing, "I blame my friend for dropping this lady demon off at my home. It was September 11th, 2017. We were headed out on a bike ride in the bosque. The house had been cleansed of “Bill” just a few months earlier and armed with a grid of black tourmaline in each corner of the apartment. Yet, something was back in the house. Murray would yelp in pain from his bed in my bedroom. After running in to check on him, he was staring with his ears up at a spot just over my bed. Then one night I remember sleeping and waking up to this very uncomfortable, disgusting feeling that consumed me. In my dream (I think) I saw a tall black shadow figure enter the bedroom and climb the walls, getting closer to me. I woke up in hysterics. I called the mediums the next day. After another demon trap session, they were unsuccessful in driving the entity into the trap. Rather, it left out the window (to likely end up in someone else's home). This time, they informed me that unlike Bill, this thing was never human--it was a succubus."

Herron shares his first experience, "This was the first eye-opening ghost experience for me at the brothel. It was the summer of 2014. In the middle of the night, while sleeping on my stomach, something was on top of me forcing me down into the bed. I remember being angry at first that it was trying to force me down. But, once it was over, I remember being so excited to tell everybody about the ghost that made actual physical contact."

Another experience in 2015 for Herron was, "My mom was helping me put the final touches on a room (mere hours prior to the first guests arriving back in October 2015). It was a real rush and I was dealing with a tremendous amount of stress and pressure. I remember attaching handles on the kitchen cabinets in the Lizzie Suite. My mom had the job of removing packing tape from the refrigerator shelves. I will never forget her looking over at me and saying “what did you just say?” I, of course, had said nothing. She told me that a man’s voice said to her “can you grab me a beer?”

And then there is Bill, which Herron says, "Bill, as this spirit was known, was present when I bought the home in 2014. A person related to the original family informed me that the owner’s suite was haunted. He told me that when the property was a hotel, a jealous husband (Bill) took an ax to his lover and his lover's lover when he caught them in the act in this room. Unbeknownst to me, Bill was fairly upset that I bought the home and spent a year or so making his distaste for me clear. A Buddhist priestess cleared the home of two spirits in 2014 after the home became almost uninhabitable. Bill was the lone spirit that stuck around. I remember thinking that we had an understanding: I would stay out of his way and he would stay out of mine. This was not the case. When the paranormal activity reached a peak during the summer of 2017, I called two new mediums to force the spirit out. Bill was successfully exorcised via a demon trap on June 14, 2017." They offer a Brews and Boos package, so this place embraces their ghosts!

High Noon Restaurant and Saloon

The High Noon Restaurant & Saloon is a veteran owned restaurant serving up wild game, steak and margaritas. It officially opened in July of 1974 by the Villa family and has stayed in the family from its inception. The original part of the building was constructed in the 1750s and was a home for several years. Then it served as a saloon and brothel. Carlos and Felicitas Vigil were married in 1910 and moved into the house in 1920. At the time, Felicitas was pregnant with the couples third child. Their youngest, Willie, died five months after moving in from gastritis. The baby was born and was another son named Ernesto and he passed away after his first birthday. Felicitas was soon pregnant again and gave birth to a girl who also passed away at just two months from pneumonia. Another baby was stillborn. That's four kids in a row. Carlos then came down with Syphilis and let's just say that Felicitas didn't give it to him. She had him committed to the New Mexico Hospital for the Insane where he passed away in 1927. Felicitas passed away in 1959 and the property passed to her surviving children who held onto it until it was bought by the Villas and turned into the restaurant. For a time in the 1960s, this was a furniture store and then an apartment. A sixteen-year-old, Freddy Moya, was fatally stabbed at a New Year's Eve party happening down the street in 1951. The Moya family had lived across the street from the High Noon restaurant.

Patrons and employees have experienced unexplained activity. Bartenders have seen glasses move or go crashing to the floor. The activity is so intense here that Dead Files visited in July of 2015. Steve was told that employees and patrons had been experiencing electrical problems, weird noises, objects moving, apparitions have been seen and people had been touched. Employees have had to have their schedules changed because they don't want to close at night. The current owner, Carla, is the daughter of the man who opened the restaurant and she took Steve behind the bar and told him that she often feels something breathing on the back of her neck. What made this even more unusual is that she has long hair and she told Steve that she feels it through her hair. Carla's fifteen-year-old daughter is pretty scared of the spirits. She was once sitting in the dining room by herself playing a video game when she heard a woman crying out in agony. The scariest thing that has happened to her is that she got trapped in the women's restroom. She tried opening the door and she felt like something was pushing back against it. She kicked the door to get out.

Charley is Carla's sixteen-year-old son. He feels very uncomfortable in the restaurant at night. He once saw a cowboy sitting on the last seat at the bar wearing a brown trench coat and a cowboy hat. This was at 8 o'clock in the morning and the restaurant wasn't opened yet. Charley thought it was strange, but maybe someone had let him in early. Charley went through the bar to the gallery and when he looked back, the cowboy was gone. On another occasion, Charley was passing through a hallway and looked through these double doors and saw a woman floating with no arms and no legs! He was so startled, he had an anxiety attack.

Shirley is Carla's mother and for the first 32 years of ownership, she said that she had no personal experiences. Then one night she opened a door and stepped into one of the dining rooms and she immediately saw an apparition on the other side of the room that came at her very quickly and passed right through her. She felt this icy feeling like nothing she had ever experienced before. Shirley described her as being small. She also told Steve that they had two different electric companies come out to work on light issues they were having with lights flickering and neither company found anything wrong.

Amy picked up on a lot of residual energy she described as "lots of men and pandemonium, people drinking and partying and getting crazy." Amy said the effect of all this energy would be claustrophobic and make people feel dizzy. Amy felt as though somebody had gotten stabbed to death when she was behind the bar and this spirit has a lot of pain and sticks to the bar. This pain seems to transfer to other people. Amy picked up on the name Frankie and said this victim had been stabbed twice, once in the front and once in the back. That is how Freddy died. In one of the storerooms, Amy felt the spirit of a murderer. Amy picked up on a short, heavier woman who presented as a busy body who was in her forties and new to the being dead thing. This little woman gets very angry because people ignore her. She tends to mess with the electrical stuff. It would seem that she is Felicitas.

A town marshal, Milton Yarberry, was hanged down the street from the restaurant. He had been a murderer and was a bad dude. People lined the streets to cheer his execution. They even sold tickets for people to get rooftop views. More than likely, the restaurant had people standing up on their roof watching this as well. Amy picked up on this energy outside the restaurant and could hear a lot of men yelling and see a man being walked through the streets. This could leave some bad energy in the whole of Old Town. 

Old Town also has many spirits that just wander the streets. People claim to see the spirits of Civil War soldiers and other apparitions. Hundreds of years of non-indigenous history is captured along the streets of Old Town. Imagine how much indigenous history that we don't even know has taken place here too. Is Old Town Albuquerque haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Ghost tour of Old Town:

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