La Posada, Santa Fe, NM (Paranormal Claims)

Depressed over the loss of a child and other unsuccessful pregnancies, Julia Staab was rumored to have gone mad and retreated to her bedroom until her death at age 52. In recent years, her alleged spirit has been the subject of many ghost tours, an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, and an episode of Weird Travels.  

KOB4’s Eerie Enchantment series covers some of New Mexico’s well-known “haunted” locations. In this story, Hawker Vanguard explores the “haunted suite” at La Posada de Santa Fe.

The first newspaper article that I could find about the ghost of La Posada was written by Alice Bullock for the Santa Fe New Mexican on August 31st, 1975. It is entitled “Fiesta Ghost and other friendly spirits de Santa Fe.”

   “Up Palace Avenue a way at the famous La Posada, once the home of the prominent Staab family, the dining on the second floor is said to be haunted. Maids and waitresses never see the ghost there, but sometimes, when they are setting up or clearing after a private party or club meeting, they are puzzled or frightened. There is the sound of wind, as soft as a Summer Breeze, but as cold and cutting as the worst blizzard. It raises goosebumps and hair on the nape of the neck. Then it is gone. If decorative candles have been left burning they go out and a few wisps of smoke rise slowly, naturally and disappear. A long go hostess or housekeeper anxious that everything be exactly right? No one seems to know. No sightings, no sounds save the soft whisper of wind and the intense momentary cold.”

So here we have the humble beginnings of the ghost story. No sightings of an apparition, no unusual odors, no moving objects, just a cold breeze that occasionally blows out a few candles. The entire event that is described in the article is based on entirely on speculation, first that Julia Staab is responsible for the cold breezes and secondly that the cold breezes are paranormal in origin.

The simple presence of a cold spot, or a stiff breeze, in this case, is not paranormal. The association with this kind of phenomenon being paranormal derives mostly from Hollywood movies such as The Haunting (1963), Fear No Evil (1969) and one of my favorite television shows  Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974 to 1975).  However, the influence is enough to suggest to the maids that something unusual is occurring. The fact that it is an old building that will probably have drafts, especially before the series of renovations to modernize the hotel, is not considered as an alternative explanation.

However, it is important to notice what is missing, the back-story of Julia Staab. It will take a few more years of speculating and the “revelations” of a psychic to put that into place. This takes place five years later when the Santa Fe New Mexican publishes an article called “Film Maker encounters ghosts who haunt NM” on June 24, 1980.

   “The ghosts of Mabel Dodge Lujan and of Julie Staab will talk of love and films about Northern New Mexico ghosts, created by Bill Carpenter, a Santa Fe filmmaker.

Carpenter, who has encountered ghosts since youth, believes there are too many things of the spiritual world we have to learn, he said during an interview.

Carpenter looks like author Ernest Hemingway. He is stoutly built. His hair and beard are snow white. Merriment dances in his light blue eyes and ruddy facial complexion, a handsome appearance at age 60. Though relaxed while speaking of ghosts, Carpenter displays an underlying nervous energy which causes a slight shake in his hands and face.

When Carpenter invited Ann Ramsey, an Oklahoma psychic, to help him locate ghost in Northern New Mexico, Mrs. Ramsey said she would like to meet the spirit of Mabel Dodge Lujan.

The article discusses Lujan before it shifts focus back to Julie Staab.

   “The Carpenter crew and Mrs. Ramsey also visited the ghost of Mrs. Staab who is said to haunt La Posada of Santa Fe, once her Victorian home.

Late one night the crew and the psychic arrived. On that night they left their cameras at home and carried only a tape recorder. On entering an upstairs bedroom, said to have been inhabited by Mrs. Staab and refurnished in the late 1800’s style, Mrs. Ramsey was immediately possessed by the ghost, Carpenter said.

“There’s no sin here,” the psychic began. “The townspeople know…Oh, I’m so lonely, I’m so tired going up and down those stairs looking for him…..”

Carpenter said neither he nor Mrs. Ramsey could determine whether Mrs. Staab was speaking of her husband or another lover.

After a lengthy possession, Mrs. Ramsey turned to a friend and begged him to pull her from the spirit. She went into hysterics, Carpenter said.

“She told me later that that was the first time she was so complete best by another. She apologized for having lost control.”

Carpenter would like to return to fill Mrs. Ramsey at La Posada. He said he has special film used by filmmakers to photograph spiritual beings.

“We’ll be prepared should a ghost walk in,” Carpenter said.

Other ghosts may come out to greet Carpenter and Mrs. Ramsey.”

As an investigator my first question is why a filmmaker would leave his camera behind and only take a tape recorder. It does not make sense and appears very suspicious to me. However the information the psychic presets will create a lot of confusion for future ghost hunters and storytellers that will distort the historical facts.

   “There’s no sin here,” the psychic began. “The townspeople know…Oh, I’m so lonely, I’m so tired going up and down those stairs looking for him.”

Who is the male that the psychic refers to? Some people will assume that this is Julia’s child that died tragically within days of its birth. This is why there are variants of the story that incorrectly suggest the child is a male, and not female. Others ignore the “no sin” segment of the statement and imply that this is evidence of an extra-marital affair, whether it is Julia’s or her husband’s. Myth building has now distorted much of the actual back-story.

A new propagator of the ghost stories enters the picture in 1990 which is reported on by Deborah Baker for the Santa Fe New Mexican in October of that year. Her story entitled “a spirited evening of stalking the elusive Santa Fe ghosts” discusses one of the city’s ghost tours which are taking locals and tourists around the Plaza, telling the ghost stories that are associated with the old buildings there.

   “On a recent night, there were no spirits in evidence as a small group of visitors to Santa Fe spent two hours on a tour of the haunt’s haunts.

“Where’s the ghost?” demanded 5-year-old Carissa Rhea, visiting from Houston Texas with her mother, Vanya.

The youngster was disappointed when they stopped at a local hostelry failed to rouse one of Santa Fe’s most famous ghosts, that of Julia Staab.

Julia, the wife of a wealthy 19th century Merchant, is said to still inhabit the Victorian house a few blocks away from the Plaza where she once presided over festive parties. The house has been remodeled and converted into a hotel, La Posada.

Julia’s ghost is said to have flown glassware, upended the trays of hapless waiters, and thrown a major fit when construction workers try to move the fireplace says tour guide Betsy Sollitt.

Guests who rented Julia’s former bedroom were reportedly driven out in the middle of the night by incessant and unexplained flushing of the toilet, says Sollitt.”

So why would a ghost be obsessed with flushing a toilet? There is nothing mentioned in the previous accounts about this odd behavior, so why would it turn up now?


Updated on November 2, 2018

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