Maria Teresa Restaurant, Reported Phenomenon

Although the house has been remodeled several times, the basic house is still intact, and it appears that some of its former residents have refused to leave. Practically every room has its own story and experiences. Each room of the house is named after the families that once lived there. The restaurant is entered through the remains of the old placita on the west side.
Several sightings of apparitions have been reported in the Armijo room. On one instance, a waiter returned to ask if anyone wanted desert or coffee. He was informed that a woman in a white dress had already taken their desert order. This was made interesting by the fact that the female staff of the restaurant wore maroon dresses. When he asked his customers what this woman looked like, they described her as a middle-aged, Hispanic woman who was about 50 years old with dark hair with streaks of gray running through it. Her hair appeared very neat and was tied up into a bun. The full-length white dress she wears is decorated with small white beads about the collar and bosom.

The woman in the white dress also frequents another dining room named the Wine Press. She has been seen by busboys in the area outside of the restrooms and by female customers, who have also reported an odd feeling of being watched while in the women’s restroom. The busboys described a fleeting image of a woman dressed in white, which is followed by a chilling gust of air.
The restaurant’s employees believe that this particular ghost may be Dona Nives, Armijo’s second wife.
One Easter Sunday, Daniel Lamb, the restaurant’s headwaiter, returned to a table to take a desert order to, once again, discover that the customer’s order had already been taken by a woman in a white dress. However, there was something different this time. The woman was pushing a desert cart. A very interesting situation indeed, considering that the restaurant does not own one.

Another type of activity that frequently occurs in Armijo Room involves the unexplainable movement of silverware. A former waitress describes the following:

“A couple times I’ve been alone in the house and have set up all of the place settings. After rechecking all the dining rooms for the night, I discovered that the flatware on the tables in the Armijo room has been moved, usually in one large pile upon the table.”

Another waitress had a bit more dramatic experience when she entered the Armijo room carrying a tray full of water glasses. The instant she crossed through the threshold to the room, the glasses starting exploding, one by one, until the table, its occupants and their meals were covered with tiny glass shards.

The Armijo room is also known for its ghostly piano player. Positioned in the west corner of the room is an antique piano, and several managers and employees have heard it play by itself late at night. The first recorded story occurred in 1987, when a night manager, alone in the restaurant, heard the antique piano playing in the Armijo room. Suspecting a burglar, he quickly, but quietly, made his way to the rear of the restaurant and locked the door to enclose anyone in the house. Then he called the police. With flashlights and weapons drawn, the police completely explored every room in the house. No one was found, and everything was as it should have been.
Daniel Lamb, who was alone in the lobby area doing some work one night, heard a soft piano melody originating from the Armijo room. He made his way through the darkened house, reaching blindly into each dining room to turn on the lights. When he reached into the Armijo room to turn on the lights, the music stopped. There was no one present, and the room was completely empty.
The Armijo room is also a favorite haunt of a ghost that the staff refers to as the “waiter hater.” It all began with one employee who didn’t like working in the Armijo room. In the room hangs a portrait of one of the members of the Armijo family. The woman has unusual light-colored eyes that really stand out. Additionally, her eyes seem to follow you no matter where you go in the room. For some personal reason, this particular waiter disliked the dining room and especially the portrait of this woman. As he went about his duties, he would often make rude comments about the woman in the portrait, including some rather off-color jokes. After awhile, an obvious pattern began to slowly develop. Soon after he said something negative about the portrait, he would have a mishap of some kind. When this waiter came to the restaurant, he was highly recommended and quite capable.

Then he started dropping trays of food, tipping over glasses of water, and other such incidents. Oddly enough, all of these accidents took place directly in front of the portrait, in a dining room filled with guests. Things finally came to an end one evening when he was forcibly pushed to the ground as he passed in front of the portrait. To no one’s surprise, this waiter left his employment at the restaurant soon afterwards.
Next to the Armijo room is a cozy little dining area called the Sarachino room, a favorite area for an apparition called “the lady in the red dress.”
On a day in November in 1993, a waiter had just returned from placing a meal order for a young couple seated in the Sarachino Room. Just before he entered the Sarachino room, he distinctly heard a woman’s voice asking, “Can you help me, sir? I need your help.”
When he turned to face the direction of the voice, he discovered that no one was in the room. He shrugged it off and continued his walk back to the young couple’s table. As he entered the room, a woman began waving her hand excitedly, saying, “Did you see her? Did you see her?” There was a smell of flowery perfume in the air similar to a lilac scent. The couple then described a middle-aged, Hispanic woman with light-colored eyes and dark hair who was wearing a red dress.
She had appeared at the doorway leading into the dining room, and as she entered, she paused and just stared at them. Then the woman turned away from them and disappeared into thin air as the waiter approached.

Moving east across the restaurant, one immediately enters the Chacon room, the home of yet another ghost. One night, while cleaning up a table nearby, an employee was strangely compelled to look into the adjacent Chacon room. There, in the empty room, he looked at the west wall where a large mirror is hung. To his amazement, he saw the reflection of the figure of a man in the dark suit seated at the table. The room was more than adequately lit, and he appeared quite clearly in the mirror. Although his image can be seen in the mirror, his image was not visible at the table. He is described as wearing a collared white shirt with a full head of dark gray hair. He keeps his arms to his side, he never makes a move, and he sits at the table quietly, as if he is waiting for someone to join him. The ghost of the man in the dark suit has only appeared to people in the Chacon room, and most of the employees that have been at the restaurant for a considerable time have encountered the ghost at one time or another.
Continuing on our westward trek, you now enter the restaurant’s southeast room, a quaint little dining room called the Zamora room.
This is the room that contains the infamous haunted mirror at Maria Teresa’s.
The story began when a waitress was taking dinner orders in the Zamora room for table of six who were seated directly below a large antique mirror. After taking the orders, she was on her way to the kitchen when suddenly, one of the patrons got up and ran after her.
She was quite excited and asked the waitress, “How do you do that?
This is really cool that you provide entertainment for your customers while they wait.” Astonished, the waitress replied, “How do we do what?” She followed her customer back to the dining room where she found the rest of the group seated and happily smiling. Reflected in the mirror next to their table, seated between two of the patrons, was a clear figure of a woman. Although she appeared to be seated between two of the patrons, she did not use a chair.

The customers had assumed that it was all a special effect that was provided by the restaurant. Not wanting to mention that it was a ghost and risking losing her tip, the waitress decided to play along.

She agreed that it was a really neat effect, smiled and continued back to the kitchen to turn in the order. The ghost remained visible in the mirror for the next hour as various employees casually ventured out to have a peek at their unexpected guest. When it came time for the waitress to offer desert, one of the patrons said, “Look,” and everyone watched as she slowly disappeared.

The ghost was described as being in her 30s, with long black hair and was wearing a white dress with long sleeves or jewelry. Her face was quite slender, and her eyes were a clear hazel. She was very animated, moving her hands and arms regularly and seemed to take an interest in each plate of food presented to the patrons. She was very pleasant and seemed to be concerned about how the patrons were being served and cared for.

From the Zamora room, you turn north and head across the lobby and into the bar. In 1993, the water pipes underneath the floor of the bar needed to be replaced. A crew of plumbers came in and proceeded to remove the floorboards in front of the bar in order to gain access to the pipes below. Once the boards were removed and the bare ground underneath exposed, the work crew began digging down through the dirt. Within a few minutes, they came upon a cache of old bones. The bones were various sizes and, from their appearance, must have been in the ground for many years.
An employee, who was in anthropology major at UMN, gathered the bones in a box and took them to her professor, who had them examined.
They were found to be those of a horse, mixed in with a few human bones as well. Are these possibly the remains of the restaurant’s restless occupants?

On October 20th, 2000, a guest seated at a table in the barroom saw a man in chaps and a vest standing in the doorway. His wife was unable to see the spirit. The barroom cowboy was also spotted in the same doorway from the same table two years ago. Neither guest knew that the restaurant is haunted.
Next to the bar is the Wine Press room. Flatware and tables have been moved, and unseen voices have been heard within this area. The lady in the red dress has also been briefly seen in this room as well.

Maria Teresa Restaurant, personal experience

The strangest experience that I ever had at the Maria Teresa restaurant occurred in August of 2000. I was doing an investigation to capture the location on video for a series of television shows for Channel 27, public access, in Albuquerque called A Ghostly Presence.

I met with the film crew in the Baca room where we ate lunch and discussed ideas for the project. The Baca Room itself had several suspect readings that registered on the EMF detector. Several waitresses told us that silverware and plates were mysteriously moved around overnight after they had been carefully placed the night before.
They also spoke of several cold spots that moved about this particular area. The room was searched thoroughly for any natural explanation of the EMF fields, but nothing conclusive could be proven either way. The origins of the EMF fields in this area are still quite a mystery. We decided to begin in investigation in the Armijo room.
This investigation was quite different from ones performed in the past, as we also had a psychic, Sarah Chaplin, who would be assisting us in locating any spirits. Upon the request of Channel 27, she was to hold an impromptu séance in the Armijo room itself.
Upon entering the Armijo room, I immediately picked up an odd EM field near the antique piano in the corner of the room and attempted to determine if the fields were of any natural origin. I could not locate any possible explanation that would cause this steady field. I backed up near the door leading into the Baca room and took a single photograph. The results are most interesting, as it is the only “phenomenon” that was captured on the entire role of film. For the séance, all of the drapes of the windows were drawn to make the room as darkest possible so he could capture any possible activity with the infrared camera. The producer of the television show also witnessed an interesting occurrence after the séance was finished.

She noticed that the sheet music on the piano was changed to a different page and was moved off center from its original location. The room was monitored the entire time, and no one recalled handling the sheet music itself. However, the strangest of all events happened three days after the film shoot. The manager came into the restaurant that morning only to discover that all of the plates and silverware on the table in the Armijo room had been pushed up into one large pile in the center of the table. The “Do Not Touch” sign that normally sits on top of the piano had also been moved and had been placed on top of the pile of dishes. If that was not enough, the chairs in the adjoining room, the Sarachino room, had been stacked on top of each other and moved in front the passage connecting the two rooms, forming a physical barrier.
During investigations here SGHA has witnessed the silverware moving in the Armijo Room, and recorded other abnormalities.

Maria Teresa Restaurant, Location History

This homestead, built around 1783, is now the home of a romantic restaurant. The showpiece is a long bar that was moved from Fort Sumner, NM, in 1970. The bar has the distinction of having quenched the thirst of notorious outlaw Billy the Kid and members of his gang. Wandering its rambling rooms are at least four specific ghosts, whose detailed visages have been recorded by both staff and patrons alike. Often, those reporting the events have never heard of the haunting of this centuries old home.

The hacienda was built by Salvador Armijo. Born into a wealthy family, he was educated in St. Louis, fluent in both Spanish and English and understood a great deal about economics, trading, real estate and the family business, transporting goods across the southwest. In 1847, Salvador married Paula Montoya and began buying more land around the house, about one hundred acres, which he turned into vineyards and vegetable gardens. His business ventures also grew. In addition to the real estate he was leasing, he also sold produce, wine and manufactured other goods.
Originally, the building was a twelve-room hacienda enclosing a central patio. It faced south, looking toward the San Felipe de Neri church and several small adobe houses that clustered around the plaza.

Between the house and the church were a few homes, but the area was mostly comprised of open fields. The house’s layout was typical for haciendas being built at the time, a rectangle, a hundred feet from north to south, and seventy feet east to west, enclosing a placita (inner courtyard). Zaguanes (covered passageways that were usually big enough for a wagon to pass through) were on the east, south and north sides. Each of the haciendas’ twelve rooms opened up into the placita instead of the outside. This was an architectural defensive measure that was carried over from Spanish Colonial times when each hacienda was a fortress and easily defendable from the local natives. In the center of the placita was the well, with stables and storages rooms to the rear.
The walls of the original house were thirty-two inches thick with the single exception being the west side, which was built out of stone. The walls of the hacienda were plastered with mud, both inside and out.

The roof was comprised of a thick layer of dirt, which was drained by long wooden canales that jutted out on all sides. The family lived in the south side of the building as storage areas and servants’ quarters comprised the northern side.
Despite Salvador’s success in business, his personal life was in turmoil. He divorced Paula after one year of marriage and started up another relationship with a woman from a prominent local family named Dona Maria de las Nives Sarracino. Their relationship quickly turned sour, and the two were often feuding over piety things. During their marriage, they only had one child, a daughter named Piedad.

Eventually, Salvador began taking frequent long business trips, leaving Dona Nieves to manage the household and local business affairs. Despite their differences, the two managed acquire more property, developed one of the largest vineyards in the territory and eventually became the largest agricultural employer in the region.
In 1872, Piedad married Santiago Baca. It was the first wedding held in the San Felipe church after the Confederate invasion of New Mexico. Salvador quickly became close to his new son-in-law, and they went into business together. As a result, Piedad and Santiago became quite wealthy. Salvador and Dona Nieves separated shortly after the wedding and began dividing up their property, a process that would eventually take ten years to complete. She got the house and part of the farmlands, but more importantly, the settlement agreement determined that Santiago would have power-of-attorney for Dona Nieves. The couple eventually moved into the house with Dona Nieves.
In 1875, Piedad and Santiago Baca began an extensive remodeling of the home in Territorial style, an adaptation of Greek revival, which was considered to be more stylish at the time. The southern zaguan was converted into a hall that opened into the rooms on either side.

Windows were also added to the exterior and portales, covered porches, were built along the west, south and east walls as well as along the interior of the placita.
The years that followed were painful as the couple’s wealth began to decline. Dona Nieves, who was never easy to get along with, became even more difficult in old age. She ruthlessly tried to rule the house. Even more complications arose when Bernardino, Santiago and Piedad’s son, moved into the house with his new bride. Playing his grandmother against his parents, the son caused an irreparable rift in the family. When Dona Nieves decided to deed the western section of the house to her grandson, Santiago and Piedad moved out in anger, and Santiago terminated the power-of-attorney that he had held for the last twenty years.

Things became even worse for Dona Nieves when she discovered that her grandson had sold some of her property without her knowledge. She filed a suit against him and went to live with her granddaughter Francisca while the legal proceedings dragged on. She died there in 1898 with her personal affairs in chaos.
Francisca’s husband, Meliton Chavez, bought the house in 1899. Santiago and Piedad returned to the house and remained there for the rest of their lives. Piedad passed away in 1907, and her husband followed almost a year later.
Meliton and Francisca moved into the house and began a series of renovations in 1908. The west side of the house was already in bad condition, so it was removed. A new living room and bedroom were built on the south side, making a double row of rooms. The exterior walls were covered with a cast stone veneer, and portales were built along the south and west exterior walls. The final touch was covering the old dirt roof with a new low-pitched one.

The house eventually passed into the hands of Alejandro and Piedad Sandoval, the daughter of Francisca and Meliton. When Meliton died in 1933, he willed the south part of the house to Piedad and the north section to his granddaughter, Frances Wilson. After her mother’s death, she became the sole owner of the house.
The building received its last major remodeling in 1977, when Frances leased the house to the Tinne Mercantile Company, who converted into a restaurant.
The restaurant changed hands again in 1984 when the Old Town Development Company acquired the restaurant. Since then, it has changed ownership several times.