Located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, the Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe sits adjacent to St. Francis Cathedral, which was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886. Lamy arrived in Santa Fe to become the first archbishop of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. He built a rectory, which was later added on to and remodeled and became known as the Old Seminary. In 1865, Bishop Lamy sold the building to the Sisters of Charity, who had come to New Mexico at the bishop’s request to help treat the sick by opening area hospitals. The first hospital they opened was in the Old Seminary, and they continued to run hospitals in the area until the mid-1900s.
By the 1950s, the Sisters of Charity had completely run out of room. They wanted to build another hospital, and John Gaw Meem, a local prominent architect, was selected to draw up the plans. That structure is now the main building at Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe and served as St. Vincent’s Hospital for 20 years. Meem was instrumental in creating Santa Fe style, which can be seen in the late Territorial Revival style of the building.
Five hospitals in all were built in Santa Fe; the last one was secularized in 1976. The first, named the Old Seminary, was built in 1853 next to the site of the present day St. Francis Cathedral. That building was remodeled in 1865 and was used as a hospital, convent, and nurses’ residence. In 1885, a new hospital was build and called the St. Vincent Sanitarium. In 1886 an annex was built, later to become La Residencia Nursing Home. The third and forth hospitals were completed in 1910 and 1953 in the same location as the others. The fifth was built in 1977 and located away from the historic downtown sites.
The hospital near the plaza remained in the building until 1977, when the structure became the home to numerous offices of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The site was also used for movie sets, featured in many major productions as well as serving as offices for the New Mexico Film Commission.
Drury Hotels bought the property in 2007 and began researching the history. The property had been in disrepair, and the community was eager for the beloved building to be restored. Archeologists were hired before any excavation or building occurred. In fact, foundations of the Sisters of Charity buildings were uncovered.
The hotel preserved the history and the original architecture and added on for restaurant and parking space.