Architecture: New Mexico
La Fonda on the Plaza (Page 2)
The structure that guests enjoy today was built in 1922 and features the influence of architects Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and John Gaw Meem. Authentic elements including hand carved beams, stained glass skylights and a 25 foot cathedral ceiling create a romantic aura unique to La Fonda's Santa Fe history. Elements of the original design are still evident throughout the hotel, with La Plazuela situated on the hotel's original 1920's outdoor patio, as well as breathtaking skylights, terracotta tile and hammered tin chandeliers in our event venues.
Vibrant and eclectic, La Fonda's history can be traced back 400 years. In 1821, Captain William Becknell and his party found their way to the La Fonda during the maiden commercial route across the plains from Missouri, establishing the Santa Fe Trail as well as La Fonda's reputation for hospitality.
Throughout the 19th century, La Fonda quickly became the preferred lodging option among trappers, soldiers, gold seekers, gamblers and politicians. The adobe structure changed hands several times as the years progressed, enduring milestones such as the Civil War, railroad expansion and New Mexico statehood, while maintaining its status as a Santa Fe landmark.
In 1925, the building changed hands again when it was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. The company leased the property to Fred Harvey, a gentleman renowned for his keen sense of hospitality. Harvey introduced his own personal touch and made the inn a Harvey House, a hotel chain noted for its high standards, fine dining and the signature "Harvey Girls," a staff of exceptionally well-trained waitresses.
La Fonda remained a Harvey House until 1968 when local businessman Sam Ballen and his wife Ethel acquired the property. The property remained in the Ballen family's care until October, 2014 when long-time family friends Jennifer Kimball and her brother Philip Wise along with his firm, Cienda Partners, acquired the property. The pair is dedicated to continuing the hotel’s rich legacy of gracious hospitality amid extraordinary surroundings, maintaining La Fonda's position as a prized national treasure. 1