Santa Fe New Mexico
Inn & Spa At Loretto & the Loretto Chapel
A friendly nun who likes cigars still finds meaning and fun on this property!
The Inn and Spa at Loretto is a AAA Four-Diamond Property, and is under the HERITAGE HOTEL AND SPA Corporation. Inn & Spa At Loretto offers fine accommodations found on its five floors, fine dining, a variety of New Mexico art on display and a wonderful Spa that offers a variety of massages. “The spa refreshes, with Native American-inspired treatments in five suites, and a heated outdoor pool relaxes guests year-round.”
There are a variety of choices when it comes to guest rooms. No matter what the size of the guess room or suite, All are “styled in sophisticated Santa Fe elegance, appointed with symbolic hues of deep terracotta red, Navajo gold, black and white commonly used in Anasazi pottery and blankets.
“There are 136 fully appointed guest rooms, and if you want a bigger space, there are “five specialty suites” (ranging from 300 to 700 square feet). The Inn and Spa at Loretto also has Santa Fe’s only Penthouse Suite. This luxury two-story suite is huge, with “over 2,800 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.” Their website describe the Penthouse Suite as being “a masterpiece of timeless form and contemporary function. Featuring a full kitchen, library, dramatic spiral staircase, and a wood-burning fireplace.”
The location of The Inn & Spa At Loretto, being right next store to the Loretto Chapel Museum and very near the Historic Plaza, has its advantages, view-wise. There are “five intimate balconies that overlook stunning views of the famed Loretto Chapel, the Historic Plaza, and an array of breathtaking mountain vistas.”
Inn & Spa At Loretto offers wonderful art exhibits, galleries and local workshops planned by the many talented local artists; all which educate guests and others about the arts of New Mexico. In their resident galleries, many “artistic treasures”, including fine art to stunning textiles are sure to delight; something for everyone to enjoy.
Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is a student gallery found in the Hopi Boardroom corridor.
In the main lobby, the Loretto Studio has on display the talent of artists who participate in the Inn’s daily Artist in Residence Program.
Other galleries found in The Inn & Spa At Loretto for guests, visitors and their resident spirit are Faircloth Adams, Little Bird Gallery, Passport to Pueblo Country, Handwoven Originals and Timbavati.
Right next to the Inn & Spa at Loretto is the Loretto Chapel Museum built by the efforts of The Order of the Sister of Loretto. It is a truly beautiful Gothic style Chapel, named after the Order of nuns who worked so hard to build in 1873. The outside and inside was inspired by Archbishop Lamy’s favorite Sainte Chapelle in Paris. It is as inspirational as it was when it was first built. Besides the uniquely phenomenal staircase to the balcony, the glorious stained glass windows and wonderfully wood-carved stations of the cross
The Loretto Chapel is open 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas Day. However, we do host over 100 weddings and special events per year so the Chapel may close without notice during regular business hours.
The Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy of the Territory got the ball rolling in promoting education for girls. Seeing the need to educate the girls, the good Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy sent out a plea to the Catholic Teaching Orders for nuns to come and establish a school. Five nuns from The Order of the Sisters of Loretto arrived in Santa Fe in 1852 after an arduous journey that killed the Mother Superior. They all learned Spanish because of the huge Hispanic population.
Through their enthusiasm and perseverance, these dedicated nuns mustered support among the people of Santa Fe and offered not only their money but their talent and construction abilities. The sisters and the people, with the guidance of a contractor, worked together to build a three story structure with a Mansard roof to be the home of Our Lady of Loretto Academy for girls.
On their 4.5 acres, other buildings were added during various eras as use of the school expanded. Besides being a school for girls, Our Lady of Loretto Academy also shared the space with a variety of organizations that helped the people of Santa Fe. An industrial school, classroom facility, dormitory, music school and auditorium for events enjoyed using this structure . “It often served a multitude of duties simultaneously.”
From 1953 until the school closed, physically and mentally challenged children were educated and cared for at this facility as well. Sister George led other nuns to run this school and facility.
At some point, the third floor was removed, leaving a two story structure. In probably 1967 or early 1968, a devastating fire burned down the buildings on this 4.5 acre campus, except the school building and the Loretto Chapel. In 1968, as this building was more than a fixer-upper opportunity, there was no monetary support from the Archdioceses to repair this building or rebuild the ruined campus, so the Sisters of Loretto had to sell the building & land and merge with St. Michael’s High School, making this once all-boy high school now co-ed; as they accepted the female students from Our Lady of Loretto Academy.
The entire campus of buildings that were built on prime land sat to forlornly rot away, but not for long. Jim Kirkpatrick fell in love with this location, and got a vision to build a new hotel in Santa Fe. He bought the 4.5 acres giving the funds to The Order of the Sisters of Loretto. “With a burgeoning tourism industry and creative culture reinvigorating Santa Fe, the timing was just right for a new era of travelers coming to discover the history and authentic culture of the southwest.”
While the old school buildings were torn down, The Loretto Chapel received funds from the Kirkpatrick family to became a museum; staying just the way it was built with money to maintain and restore it. In private ownership, it began to host weddings for couples from any denomination.
Architect Herald Stewart’s plans for the four story Pueblo Santa Fe style hotel perhaps inspired by the Taos Pueblo were enthusiastically accepted by Kirkpatrick’s committee, that included Historic preservationist and renowned architect John Gaw Meem, as well as architect William Lumpkin.
The Inn & Spa at Loretto has evolved throughout the years to become a resort with a Spa, real upscale suites on an added 5th floor, and the support of local Santa Fe style art. A $7.5 million refurbishment in 2008 raised the caliber of the rooms, and probably added a fifth floor. The Inn & Spa at Loretto was updated by Zimmer Associates in 2013. It became “a boutique, luxury resort featuring an award-winning spa, heated garden pool and onsite galleries.” Yes Indeed, there is a lot to inspire and draw in guests to stay at this relaxing place to unwind and enjoy all the amenities and the art galleries and events that may have also made a resident spirit happy as well.
HISTORY OF THE LORETTO CHAPEL
The Order of Sisters of Loretto also built the Loretto Chapel right next door to the Our Lady of Loretto Academy in 1873, making it very convenient for all at the school to attend daily prayers in a beautiful place of worship. Unfortunately, the architect of this small Gothic-style chapel, then called Chapel of Our Lady of Light died suddenly before building the staircase to the balcony, a very much needed space because of the small size of the Chapel. Many carpenters came and advised that access would have to be by a ladder, because a full staircase would interfere with the seating in the chapel.
The Sisters prayed a nine day Novena to St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Carpenters. A carpenter out of nowhere showed up, and built the staircase, using simple tools and wooden pegs and left, not wanting a payment. Some call this the miracle staircase because the carpenter appeared out of nowhere, the wood used couldn’t be found in Santa Fe, and the construction of the staircase was truly unique. It was built in such a way that it didn’t take up much space and didn’t interfere with the seating needed for people.
Some surmise that this unknown carpenter could’ve been a recluse French rancher who had incredible math and carpentry skills and an immense collection of carpentry tools, could’ve been the one who built it. But, where did he get the wood that wasn’t available in New Mexico? Then nuns believed that this carpenter was sent by Saint Joseph himself.
This Loretto Chapel was used and appreciated up until the school closed in 1968. It was sold to a private owner and now is a museum and a non-denominational wedding chapel.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who enjoyed their dedicated life of service to others sometimes can’t quite leave the place in this world where they were instrumental in making life better for others.
The spirit of Sister George was a member of The Order of the Sisters of Loretto and taught at Our Lady of Loretto Academy in the challenged children program from 1953 to when the school closed in 1968. She died in 1976 in Texas, but has made her way back to where her old stomping grounds once stood, and has been enjoying herself there since the late 1970s’.
Sometimes spirits bond to the land where their beloved structure stood, and have no qualms about moving into the new or revamped structure built on the land.
Sister George didn’t mind that a new building stood where her old school once existed because she was a positive person while alive. She perhaps likes to stay and enjoy her after-life, while finding ways to be helpful.
Sometimes items and places inside this new building are of great interest to the spirits who move inside. Being a teacher when she was alive, this spirit of Sister George may be very interested in all the art work on display and the workshops that are held.
Sometimes they try to help the best they can as a spirit person. This Spirit of Sister George tries to find ways to be helpful in the The Three Sisters Boutique, and still loves children.
The Spirit of Sister George
This good natured, humorous, & kind spirit has appeared in front of staff and guests, giving them a thrill. She provides “unexplained phenomena.” She apparently has some favorite rooms she likes to visit and be inside at the Inn & Spa At Loretto.
When the fourth floor was closed for renovations, the check-in desk got phone calls from the fourth floor rooms.
Perhaps, this was the chance for the Spirit of Sister George to have some fun using the phones, while letting the living know that she was still there, and was being patient with the construction.
Lets the living know that she is there by creating the smell of a cigar to be her signature aroma, which is noticed everywhere she visits.
They have noticed this distinctive aroma in the Inn & Spa at Loretto’s restaurant, and other places she likes to go, like The Three Sisters Boutique.
Being a nun who enjoyed being in service, this well-meaning Spirit of Sister George has joined the efforts of The Three Sisters Boutique, which is located in The Inn & Spa at Loretto.
The owners find an unexplained ten dollar bill every morning on their cash register.
Clothes racks have risen off the floor, perhaps as a joke from the fun-loving Spirit of Sister George.
Lights have a mind of their own.
The Spirit of Sister George does acts of kindness; still loves children. She comforted an upset child by giving her a necklace.
The Spirit of Sister George also visits the Loretto Chapel Museum; a place where she had many fond memories.
The Chapel Gift Shop
The Spirit of Sister George enjoys the many crosses sold here, probably because they are crafted pieces.
When the employees leave for the day, all the crosses are on the wall. Sometimes the opening staff find the crosses neatly stacked on the floor, like someone was enjoying each one and placing it down in an orderly manner.
Perhaps she also enjoys watching the weddings from the balcony where no one can go now, and still prays in the chapel as well.
Most Probably So!
Since the late 1970s’, boatloads of personal experiences have been reported from guests, staff and The Three Sisters Boutique Shop folks.
I can’t find any hard evidence shared on line from any large or small paranormal investigation effort.
The Spirit of Sister George seems to be enjoying her after-life at the Inn & Spa at Loretto and The Loretto Chapel; enjoying the phones, the Loretto Chapel gift shop, Three Sisters Boutique Shop; helping when she can with fundraising, needy children and having some good-hearted fun with the living which shows her sense of humor.
211 Old Santa Fe Trail,
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Inn & Spa At Loretto is located on the Old Santa Fe Trail near the corner of W. Alameda St snd Old Santa Fe Trail. The Santa Fe River runs just south of the Inn. The Loretto Chapel is located right next to the Inn & Spa At Loretto.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr