It’s that time of year again when youngsters ponder what costumes to wear, scary movies fill TV schedules, and pumpkins grimace from porches and doorsteps. Halloween is about ghosts, witches, ghouls, and the unknown but for the following Taos locales, the aura of spookiness abounds all year-round.
Hacienda del Sol
Set amid towering, 300-year-old cottonwood trees, the Hacienda del Sol Bed and Breakfast Inn operates much like any other hospitality establishment. Every now and then though, guests run across something they may not experience at just any hotel.
“One interesting thing that would happen is someone would put a key in their room door to open it but someone would push it back out,” Luellen Hertel says with a chuckle.
Hertel bought the property in 2007 and has been welcoming guests to a cozy stay ever since. The original structure was built in 1804 and some of the home’s more prominent residents have included Mabel Dodge Luhan and her fourth husband Tony who, Hertel believes, still inhabits certain parts of the house. Tony Luhan was a Taos Pueblo tribal member. The Inn sits just outside Pueblo land.
“My housekeepers would tell me that they would be in Mabel’s room and would hear a drum beating,” Hertel states. “One of the most interesting things to happen was a woman from Wisconsin who said she saw a man sitting by the fireplace. She says she spoke with him and he told her to have certain Native American artifacts that were hanging on the wall as decoration to be removed. I later showed her a portrait of Tony and asked her if that was the man she saw and she said that it was.”
“I feel like things have been good here,” Hertel says of her time spent running the Hacienda del Sol. “We’ve had several people who say they have felt his spirit and that he is a fun and friendly ghost. He must be happy with us, and if he is here, then it is a good thing.”
Hacienda del Sol Bed and Breakfast Inn is at 109 Mabel Dodge Lane in El Prado.
The Alley Cantina
Good drinks, great food, live music, and ghosts? The Alley Cantina is one of the staple watering holes and eateries of Taos. The downtown property was purchased by Buzz and Ruth Waterhouse 15 years ago and their ownership began with a bit of renovation to the 400-year-old building that has seen its share of interesting people come and go.
“Things really started happening during the time when we started knocking holes in the walls,” Ruth recalls. “Weird things would occur like we would set something down in one place and it would mysteriously be moved. One time we had bought some brand new candle holders and set them out around the bar. We left for the night and the next day when we came back, all the candles were lit! No one had been in the building since closing so that was very strange.”
According to Ruth, the area around the bathrooms seem to have some strange occurrences as well. “Every now and then a customer will come up to me and ask if something is going on around the bathrooms,” Ruth explains. “I would ask them, what do you mean? Women especially, would claim that they would be waiting in line for the bathroom and they would mysteriously feel an arm wrap around their shoulder. When they looked around thinking it may be their husband, there would be no one there.”
The Alley Cantina is at 121 Teresina Lane, just off the northwest corner of Taos Plaza.
The Fechin House
“Some major things have gone down here,” explains Erion Simpson, executive director of the Taos Art Museum and Fechin House. “You have to feel the unique energy of this place that he always called home.”
The place Simpson is referring to is the former home and art studio that was occupied by world-famous Russian artist Nicolai Fechin between 1927 and 1933.
Fechin has been considered one of the most prominent painters of the 20th century and some say that his legacy transcends oil paints and canvas and lingers in the residence described as “A Russian house evolved out of New Mexico mud.”
“Visitors have approached me and claimed that they heard the piano playing as if someone were practicing,” Simpson said. “When they go to investigate and see who is playing, there is no one there. Another curious thing that happens is someone will walk into the studio and all of the sudden smell the very distinct scent of oil paints, almost as if someone were painting. Even when we have not a single oil painting hanging on the wall, it would happen.”
Recent guest to the Fechin House, Nicole Barnett, explains what she saw during her visit. “I was sitting there in the museum and all of a sudden a man appeared in the window in the other room and was just standing there watching me,” Barnett says. “He was wearing what looked like a white apron and a red tie and he had his arms crossed. He had a look on his face like he was very angry or upset. After that he just kind of disappeared but somehow you could still see little traces of movement where he had been standing.”
The Taos Art Museum and Fechin House is located at 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.
Officially stated as being nearly a thousand years old, Taos Pueblo is home to an indigenous culture that has experienced a long and tumultuous history dotted by warfare, witchcraft, conquest, and adaptation to the modern world.
The Tiwa-speaking peoples of this village have been known to be very secretive and conservative and as such, have asked to remain unnamed in their recollection of events that have transpired on Pueblo lands.
“They say that there is a little man that lives around the Pueblo,” states a young member of the tribe who wishes to remain anonymous. “I don’t know if he is a ghost or what but he is short, maybe three feet tall at the most, and has long hair that hangs down and covers his face so you can never see it. He sits in a crouching way and doesn’t climb down the ladders of the village in the normal way but climbs down face first.”
The young man further explains, “one night I walking into town and it was late so there was no one else on the road. As I walked I noticed a little man following me on the side of the road and he was jumping from one fence post to the next,” he recalls with a shudder. “I got really freaked out and started walking faster trying not to look at it. By now I was really hoping someone would drive by and thankfully someone I knew recognized me and pulled over. They asked if I needed a ride and I jumped in the car before I could say anything. That was the only time I ever saw the little man and I don’t want to ever again.”
Taos Pueblo is at the end of Veteran’s Highway, which intersects with Paseo del Pueblo Norte between the Kachina Lodge and the northside Allsups.