355 E. Palace Avenue

- February 8, 2013

"It was a sadder day today when I read that last night at 8 p.m., 355 E. Palace was engulfed in flames."

In 2003, I received my last paycheck from CNN, took and passed the New Mexico bar exam, then rented a tiny space at 355 E. Palace Avenue for my law office. The historic Francisca Hinojos House built in the 1800′s was my dream space with its red tin roof, thick adobe walls, portals, hard wood floors with high ceilings and fireplaces. The bonus: the kind and warm and funny Bill and Maureen (Sam) Field owned the place. The house had been in Bill’s family forever.

As I was decorating my office and trying to make it the most user friendly, lovely law office I could, it occurred to me that my inner Francophile had taken over. The space was looking a bit like a French salon. Since I was in the City Different, I decided to go with that. What would be unseemly in Atlanta is applauded as creative individuality in Santa Fe.

I filled an armoire and a buffet with my collection of vintage French sheets, textiles and pillows. From Monday through Friday, I was Susan Tungate, Attorney at Law, LLC. On Saturdays and Sundays, I threw open the doors, pulled out my textiles, and planted my red and white Tulipe Antiques sign in the front yard of the building.

People came. Eventually I rented a larger space. Tulipe became a place where people purchased my beautiful textiles, yes, but they stayed for a cup of tea, or to hear a short story a writer was working on or to listen to a young musician so appreciative to have her first audience. My friends knew where to find me and visit. The space at 355 E. Palace Ave. became a gathering place. It was a sad day when I decided the recession was not a good time to either rent the space or sell antiques.

It was a sadder day today when I read that last night at 8 p.m., 355 E. Palace was engulfed in flames. I drove over just to see for myself. The thick adobe walls outside held firm, but the red roof undulates, parts are burned out. As I was standing there looking at the ruins, Sam and Bill arrived. So sad. I heard the fireman tell them the place was destroyed, currently listed as condemned.


I don’t know what will happen next. I do know that for a few wonderful years my space at 355 E. Palace Ave. was a home, a home for beginnings, transitions and hope. Bill and Sam, thank you. I am so sorry.