Holly and I outside the San Miguel Chapel, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)
The San Miguel Chapel needing a little TLC in the 1870s.
The San Miguel Chapel on the Old Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe. Travelers entering (or leaving) Santa Fe along the Santa Fe Trail would have passed this mission church on their journey. I make mention of it as my characters enter the city in 1876 in my novel "Into the Shadowlands." Photos here are past and present, much like in the novel! A mission church has stood on this spot since 1610. Although the original adobe church was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, it was rebuilt in 1710. Over its 400 years of history, it has been in various states of repair. Some photos capture it in a dilapidated state (as in this vintage shot), others show different facades, especially the bell tower. Behind the chapel, just to its left in the vintage shot, you can just see the top of what is referred to as "The oldest house in Santa Fe." It is said to date back to 1250 AD as part of the Tiwa Indian Pueblo of Analco. Across the trail from the chapel is what is now De Vargas Street, which hosts some lovely secluded homes and leads to the main capital buildings. During its early history though, this was known as the Barrio de Analco. It was where many of the Indian servants of Santa Fe's elite resided during the Spanish colonial period. Santa Fe was divided into "los ricos y los pobres," the rich and the poor. Most of Santa Fe's elite, lived on the "other side of the river" (the meaning of Analco) near or around the plaza. The oldest house still stands, you can see it in the same spot in the 2019 photo. It has been restored and stuccoed.
The pup and I outside the San Miguel Chapel, standing on what was the "The old Santa Fe Trail," spring 2019.
(Photo by Stephen Lang.)
Same shot, different century!
Vintage photo taken just a little bit down the trail from the chapel as the road crosses the Santa Fe River.
This is another angle of the San Miguel Mission Church. This time the pics were taken from across the street... the Santa Fe Trail itself. Travelers of the trail would have passed right down this road on their way to the plaza. The building to the right of the church was St. Michael's College (or dormitory), built in 1878. It was another building commissioned by Archbishop Lamy. It is now known as the Lamy Building and serves as the HQ of the New Mexico Tourist Department. Unfortunately, on the day we were there to get our 2019 photo, the building was covered in scaffold. My photoshop skills only go so far! Although "Into the Shadowlands" is set in 1876 (before the college was built,) I have a scene in my book in which my characters ride into Santa Fe, following this exact route.
The Loretto Chapel sits snugly between the school and the convent dating this pic to at least the 1880s.
Here I stand, outside the chapel in the spring of 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)
This vintage shot was taken from pretty much the same angle and location as its modern counterpart.
The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, was another stop on my "Into the Shadowlands," Santa Fe Trail book tour. This was another building commissioned by Archbishop Lamy and construction begun in 1874. I do make mentioned of this chapel in my novel (set in 1876 and in present day) but at that time, the chapel was still under construction, and wouldn't be finished until 1878. The Santa Fe Trail ran right past this building and so my characters would have ridden by it as they came into town and no doubt would have heard the stone masons hard at it ! There is also a fascinating story about its 'Miraculous Staircase,' which I won't try to cover here, but this link can tell you more about it: https://www.lorettochapel.com/info/staircase
I have also included a wide shot of the Loretto Chapel and its original neighbors. To the left of it was a school, constructed by the nuns of the Order of Loretto in 1880. To the right of the Loretto (dedicated to Our Lady of Light) was the convent. In 1971, the whole property was sold and all but the Loretto Chapel were demolished. There is just open space to the left of the chapel now but where the convent once stood is now the "Loretto Inn," built in 1973 in the popular Spanish-pueblo revival style. It very much resembles the Taos Pueblo and has incorporated the chapel into its sprawling complex.
Me on Water Street, outside the Collected Works Bookstore, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)
A photo of the old jail on Water Street, sometime in the 1800s.
An important scene take place at this location, past and present, in my novel. Even though the jail plays a very important part in my book, it is most famous for one its notorious inmates, Billy the Kid, who spent some time there in early 1881. Along with Dave Rudabaugh and William Wilson, Billy tried a bold escape from this jail. Digging beneath the cell wall towards the street, they hid the dirt and the stones in the bedticking. The sheriff (Romulo Martinez) had planted an informer in the jail and the plot was thwarted at the last minute. Billy also wrote letters to the then governor, Lew Wallace, while incarcerated at the jail.
"I wrote you a little note the day before yesterday, but have received no answer I Expect you have forgotten what you promised me this month two years ago, but I have not, and I think you had ought to have come and seen me as I requested you to. I have done everything that I promised you I would, and you have done nothing that you promised me. I think when you think the matter over, you will come down and see me, and I can then explain everything to you. "
Lew Wallace (who wrote the book "Ben Hur" while stationed in Santa Fe,) resided at the Palace of the Governors, a couple of blocks away. Two years previously, Wallace had had a secret meeting with Billy, promising him a pardon for all of his crimes if he testified against Dolan, Campbell and Evans in the slaying of Huston Chapman, during the Lincoln County War. Billy did give testimony but could never stay out of trouble. The lure of outlaw life was irresistible and 'going straight' or leaving the territory (where he had many friends and paramours) probably didn't have much appeal either. Lew Wallace never replied to any of Billy's letters. But I will not even try to cover the story of Billy the Kid. SO much has been written about him, multiple books, theories and speculation surround his myth. Since he was a legend in his own time, and was very young when he died, (at the hands of Pat Garrett down in Fort Sumner a few months after Billy's Santa Fe incarceration,) I am sure he helped to fuel those flames and so much of the crime and murder attributed to him, probably was committed by somebody else.
Since my novel "Into the Shadowlands" is set in 1876 (and in current day), it is a little too early to cover the Lincoln County War and one of its most famous participants, but I do touch on that era in the sequel (still in the works) "Whispers across the Plane."
The Collected Works Bookstore is one of my favorites! Dorothy and Mary have hosted several events for me in the past and it remains a good ole fashioned bookstore where you can sit on comfy couches, drink a fine espresso and leaf through 'real' books! Of course I had to have a scene set here in my book!
Holly and I across from the SantaCafe in Santa Fe, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)
Padre Gallegos' House in the 1800s.
The Padre Gallegos House on Washington Avenue. This building, past and present, has an important role in my novel and so I just had to include it in my "Into the Shadowlands," Santa Fe Trail book tour! Jose Manuel Gallegos was one of several priests who Archbishop Lamy defrocked. On arrival in New Mexico in 1851, the then Bishop Lamy was appalled to witness the vice and corruption that ran rampant through the clergy. Many gambled, danced and drank and indulged in "lascivious pleasures." Some had mistresses (who, in some cases, were married women) and fathered illegitimate children. Some took bribes, others socialized with politicos and businessmen. Gallegos was guilty of some, if not all, of the above and was defrocked in 1852. He was also a leading politician in the state too. He built his house in Santa fe in 1857. My novel, "Into the Shadowlands," is set in 1876, a year after Gallegos died. Although it is fiction, and so too is the baile (or dance) held at this location in my story, I thought that the ex-padre (given his love of dancing) would not have disapproved of such an event transpiring at his old home. A baile, or fandango, was a frequent event in old Santa Fe. Here is a great account by Joseph Pratt Allen, taken from a wonderful book of his letters called "West by Southwest." Allen crossed the Santa Fe Trail in 1863.
"There is one institution that affords all the amusement here, save gambling, that cannot be overlooked, as it furnishes the material for nine tenths of the opinions strangers form of the people; this is the baile or fandango. These entertainments take place nightly in some part of the town, and as far as I could judge, seem to be supported by the Americans. They are usually open to everybody - a bright light on the roof or in front of the portalles indicating that one is going on. You enter and find yourself in a bar room not unlike similar institutions in the smaller towns in the states. On one side will be a billiard room, and a table covered with greenbacks and ivory counters, at which monte is played; thence a door opens into a larger sala in which the dancing takes place. This is usually a long, narrow, room with benches arranged around the edge, two or three musicians posted on a stage at one end, the walls covered at least as high as your head with chintz calico to protect from the whitewash, a large number of various sized looking-glasses, interspersed with tin crucifixes and candle sticks, with an occasional cheap print, either of a saint or a woman, for the decoration of the walls. The floor of adobe is covered with a carpet.
On the benches, if you come early, will be ranged round the female dancers, attended by their chaperones - horrid, ugly-looking old women, in uglier clothes. All these will be soberly and almost sadly smoking the little cornstalk cigarettes. The men will be grouped around the door or bar smoking pipes or cigars. Of course there is a dull, heavy cloud of smoke settled over the whole sala."
Despite the heavy smoke and somber cigarette smoking, these fandangos were lively affairs. Like I said, the one I depict in my novel is fiction, but based on historical truth. What I love about New Mexico, past and present, is its mix of devout Catholic symbolism and its perfect opposite, vice! The fact that there were saints and crucifixes at these fandangos is a wonderful image! No wonder Gallegos never saw the harm in his duel life as priest and party-goer! One thing that Joseph says (back in 1863!!) that could still be said today and is one of the major reasons why I love to call New Mexico home is this...."Santa Fe is a strange chapter torn out of the past and stuck in between the leaves of American progress." Long may it be stuck in its time-warp!
The Gallegos building now houses one of Santa Fe's most renowned eateries, the "SantaCafe." There is a modern day scene set there in my novel too.