HISTORY OF HOTEL ST. FRANCIS
Santa Fe's Oldest Hotel on the National Register of Historic Places1922 The old De Vargas Hotel's demise was almost as famous as its guest list and probably a lot more mysterious. In January 1922, the De Vargas burned to the ground leaving only the brick chimney to mark the location. It was the biggest fire in Santa Fe in 300 years. There were no high winds to keep the blast alive, however the fire lasted for roughly six hours even though the fire department was located directly across the street. The fire was shockingly silent and so unexpected that guests were unaware and kept checking into their favorite rooms while the hotel was burning.
1947 The hotel was sold to Pat Vigil and David Armijo in 1947. Pat and Celina Vigil ran the hotel as husband and wife for several decades. According to Celina, politicians continued to stay at the hotel, until the 1960s when the modern motel became increasingly more popular as it allowed for guests to park their car in front of their room. Despite this, the De Vargas Hotel lived on. Instead of being known as the politicians' playground, the De Vargas picked up a new reputation as the working man's hotel. The accommodations were known as basic, "a bed and a sink and a bathroom down the hall." The De Vargas was where guests' "basic needs were met, so the guests were warm, dry and safe."
1986 Patricia and Goodwin Taylor, residents of Virginia, purchased a leasehold in the hotel from the Vigil and Armijo Families, remodeled and reopened the De Vargas Hotel as the Hotel St. Francis in 1986 with a decadent Victorian style. The old De Vargas Hotel had 98 guestrooms originally, but in order to create private bathrooms that were lacking in the original hotel, the guestroom count was reduced to 79. In addition, a new restaurant and bar replaced the original barber and beauty shops.
2008 Heritage Hotels and Resorts acquired management of the hotel in 2008 and purchased the leasehold. Heritage Hotels fully renovated the hotel to create a new experience for the hotel guests. The design inspiration comes from the patron saint of Santa Fe, St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was a wealthy nobleman raised in privilege, who chose to give up his life of luxury to follow the teachings of Christ. In 1209, he founded the Franciscan Order, which provided for a simple existence. The Franciscan missionaries significantly influenced the settlement of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico by bringing their religion, architecture, agriculture, artistry, and culinary expertise to the region.
TODAY The 79 guestrooms reflect a refined, simple elegance decorated with handcrafted furniture and art by local artisans. The atmosphere at the Hotel St. Francis evokes a sense of peacefulness in the midst of the splendid culture of downtown Santa Fe. In the hotel's bar, Secreto, guests experience the wine-making traditions of the Franciscan missionaries and enjoy hand-crafted cocktails made from fresh local produce.