Old Buildings Get New Life in Santa Fe

Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe Restoring the Past

Two buildings in Santa Fe—Marian Hall, completed in 1910, and the old St. Vincent Hospital building, completed in the early 1950s—show that old structures can be given new life. Drury Hotels is transforming these buildings, fully steeped in history, into the sleek new Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe. Two blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza and adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe will be the first new large hotel to open in downtown Santa Fe in 18 years. Also part of the Drury’s revival of these five acres of dormant space at the intersection of East Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta is the development of beautiful pedestrian walkways and gardens.

The property, which will officially open in August, will be a full-service hotel with 182 rooms, a restaurant, a 3,800-square-foot ballroom, and a year-around, heated rooftop bar and pool with stupendous views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There will be retail and gallery space on the Paseo de Peralta side of the property. An underground parking garage will underlie two-thirds of the south side of the property, with new suites and gallery spaces constructed above it. But even with all of the new and existing buildings, 40% of the site is devoted to open space.


“Drury Hotels has a lot of experience in adaptive reuse projects,” says Brian Nenninger, Project Manager. “We enjoy finding old buildings, and work hard to repurpose, renovate, and redesign them for new uses, rather than demolish. We have been fortunate to assemble one of the best teams I’ve ever worked with. There’s a lot of great talent in Santa Fe, and they are helping us bring this project to fruition.

“Mark Hogan from the Hogan Group, is the architect responsible for site layout and planning, as well as the design of the exterior façades” adds Nenninger.  “Kenneth Francis, from Surroundings, is the landscape/hardscape designer on the project, and together they are transforming the dormant space around the property through innovative landscape architecture and design. Kenneth is responsible for the beautiful compass-rose design on the driveway, where our guests will enter the hotel. This feature is orientated to true North, South, East, and West. And John Zubchenok, from Firefly Lighting, is handling all of the lighting, including a beautiful, large chandelier in the lobby. He is a true artisan, and not only did our chandelier but all of the lighting in the public areas.”

A long pedestrian promenade through the property will easily link the historic Cathedral Park to Canyon Road.  The promenade will be lined with flowering crab apples and will include several plazas, for special events or relaxation. A Wedding Grove in the northeast of the property will have a dense copse of new trees to complement several specimen trees that are being preserved. Galleries and an outdoor sculpture park will be located at the main entrance to the hotel.

Solar panels have been installed to provide hot water for the hotel and to heat the pool.

Inspired by the Spanish missions of New Mexico, each of the Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe’s 182 guestrooms reflects the authentic Territorial Style, and features spacious, light-filled sitting areas and oversize bathrooms. Many rooms have fireplaces and balconies, and many have jetted tubs. The deluxe rooms and suites have great seating areas with a wood-tile floor. All the furniture in the rooms, including the quartz-topped vanities, are manufactured in Drury’s Missouri furniture plant. The deluxe bathrooms have both a freestanding glass shower and a separate soaker tub, and 90 of them will feature custom-made sliding barn doors.

The Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe property is steeped in history dating back more than 400 years. Before renovation and construction began, an excavation and archeological team explored the site. Many artifacts were recovered, and a Spanish roadbed estimated to date from the 1610s was discovered. One hundred and eighty-five years later, Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy purchased the land. Lamy, a French Roman Catholic clergyman, was responsible for the construction of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as St. Francis Cathedral, and the Loretto Chapel. Willa Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop is based on his life and career.

In 1865, Lamy invited the Sisters of Charity, a teaching and healing order from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Santa Fe. The future hotel property was deeded to the Sisters to be used for construction of a series of sanatoria, hospitals, and orphanages, in addition to residences for the Sisters. When the stylish St. Vincent’s Sanatorium opened in 1883, it was the tallest building in the city, at 60 feet high with a cupola on top. The various buildings used by the Sisters surrounded an area used by Lamy for his gardens. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground in 1893. Another brick structure, built in 1886, became a home for the aged until 1948, when it was demolished to make way for the new St. Vincent Hospital, designed by renowned architect John Gaw Meem.

“In plan, this building is roughly the shape of a cross, symbolic of the spirit and love and sacrifice of the Divine Master whom the Sisters of Charity serve in devoting their lives to hospital work,” wrote Meem. “The building recalls the traditional architecture of our region of which Santa Fe is so proud. The building would harmonize with the territorial style.”

St. Vincent Hospital opened in 1953 and remained in operation on the property until 1977. In 1978, the state of New Mexico purchased the old St. Vincent Hospital and Marian Hall, and housed in it five different state agencies, including the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

“Our intention is to preserve as much history as possible,” says Tauseen Malik, General Manager of Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe, “including the beautiful mosaic flooring in the old cafeteria of Marian Hall, which opened in 1910.”

“We are excited to be a part of the Santa Fe hospitality community,” says Chuck Drury, President and CEO of Drury Hotels. “The hospital buildings hold colorful memories of the past, and we are excited to open the beautiful Territorial Revival–style Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe this August.”


From a Drury Plaza Hotel media release.

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