Luna Mansion, Los Lunas, NM (Ghost Stories)

Interview with David Scoville (manager)

I came to work at the Luna Mansion in 1979 and worked as a kitchen manager until 1983. After that, I left eventually returned after a three-year absence. But the present position is general manager/owner. I know a lot of history about the mansion and of stories of the ghosts which inhabit it. The mansion was built by the railroad for the Luna/Otero families between 1878 in 1881 at the cost of $47,000. It’s a two-story adobe of the Victorian/Southern style.

The first personal experience I can recall with the ghost took place in 1980, late at night between midnight and 1 AM. At the time, I was up on the second floor of the mansion finishing my bartending shift. All of the patrons had left, and I was checking the adjacent rooms and ashtrays for lit cigarettes, tossed wrappers, etc. The room is furnished with beautiful antique chairs, sofas, and tables. At the end of every shift, the staff checks for any damage, such as cigarette burns, which might have occurred throughout the day. Most importantly, we check for smoldering butts. The danger of fire is significant in a house as old as this.

I was making my rounds in the Northeast room. There is a nicely decorated Art Deco lamp that sits on the table there. The lamp has a ribbon of fringe around the base of its shade. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the fringe move. I thought that an employee had failed to turn off the air conditioner, so I reached up towards the vent to see if I could feel cool air coming from it. There was not any air coming from the vent, so I determined that the air conditioner was indeed off. As I turned around, I spotted the fringe as it began to move again.

The fringe moved as if the finger was passing around the face of the lamp. I took a few steps back, and suddenly there appeared to be an image of Josefita, the house’s original owner! Josefita was a person who painted murals and paintings, which you can see throughout the house. Josefita was running her finger around the base of the lamp. She was dressed in white clothes. I immediately ran downstairs and out the front door, not bothering to shut off lights and leaving many still in the cash register. I was scared out of breath. I felt as if I’d been hit with a hard blow to the stomach. I can tell you what I remember about her: she wore no jewelry, her hair was in a bun, and she was just a long white skirt of some kind, something that I imagine women wearing during the 1920s.

She was not translucent, as most people imagine a ghost. Josefita appeared as a real person, solid and not vaporous at all. Because of my fright, I didn’t even notice her facial expression, whether smiling, frowning, or anything. As I stood out by the front gate, I looked up to the second floor and still saw her image looking down at me from the second-story window.¬†I’ve since discovered that where I saw Josefita’s apparition is her favorite place to appear. The upstairs barroom was Josefita’s master bedroom years ago. Employees and patrons in the barroom have suddenly experienced various things such as goosebumps, cold chills, losing their breath, sensing her presence, or actually seeing her as I did. After reading the history of the Luna Mansion, I know Josefita’s bedroom was originally located at the northwest corner of the house. After her husband died, she moved her bedroom to the North East corner of the house.¬†Another area where she has been known to make her presence felt or appear is at the top of the stairs, leading to the second-floor barroom. Unfortunately, she had a heart attack in this area.

Josefita in her wedding dress.

My second experience took place at about 10 AM in that very spot. I was carrying two cases of beer up to the second floor. At the very top, the staircase is a door on the right that leads into the attic. The attic is used as a storeroom for the bar. As I approached the attic door, I noticed a woman walking from the old bathroom in the upstairs area, which has since been renovated into the bar’s cocktail station. This woman walked from the cocktail station into the Northeast room. I was busy carrying the cases of beer up the stairs and thought that the woman was Susie, our housekeeper.
I said, “Hi, Susie.” I entered the attic/storeroom, knowing that Susie was ahead of me. However, when I looked ahead of me, I saw not Susie but Josefita dressed precisely as I’d previously seen her. Needless to say, she got me totally by surprise. I dropped the two cases of beer I had struggled to carry up the stairs. I ran out of the room and down the stairs. Since my second encounter with Josefita’s ghost, I’ve spoken to her descendants and described my experience. They informed me that, yes indeed, it was Josefita because every detail of her dress, and the way she wore her hair in a bun, was precisely how she was in life.
Another time, I was walking on the grounds late at night and made my way to the front of the house. I felt the eyes of someone staring at me. I didn’t pay any attention to it until the sense of these eyes became overwhelming. I glanced towards the mansion, and my eyes focused on the second-floor windows. There I spotted the image of Josefita dressed in her white dress gazing down at me. Other odd, unexplained occurrences take place at the mansion. For instance, there are light fixtures where bulbs unexplainably came unscrewed. I can actually count on certain bulbs becoming unscrewed almost on a nightly basis.

I can walk through the mansion and simply point to light fixtures in its main dining room, which I know will have bulbs unscrewed from their sockets by morning. The dining room has beautiful large chandeliers, and the chandeliers, for some unknown reason, have attracted the ghost. There are other light fixtures throughout the house with similar unscrew bulbs. Still, the chandeliers in the main dining room remain the most common.
I recall another incident that took place in about 1987 during the month of December. A woman guest was having an evening meal with a male friend, her sister, and three children. Our hose seeded them in the main dining room. The gentleman, who supported a ponytail, was seated by the entrance to the dining room. He and his companions were served their meals, and all was going well until I was asked by the server to visit their table. As a restaurant owner and general manager, I have to respond to clients’ problems and concerns. As I approached the table, I did notice that the man in his companions were quite still.

The man stated in a nervous voice that someone had pulled and flipped his ponytail. As he turned his head to look, there was no one visible in the area. The rest of the fellow diners noticed the action of his hair being pulled, but that was all. No one saw anyone doing the actual pulling. As I heard him tell his story, suddenly, the light bulbs in the chandeliers above our heads began to explode one by one, first one, then another, all in succession as if they were being shot out by a BB gun. Glass fell down upon the diners and their food. We all covered our eyes from the falling glass with our hands and napkins. After just a few seconds, everything stopped. I quickly gave my apologies and told them that we would replace their dinners.
To my surprise, the diners remained for the rest of the evening. The staff quickly brought ladders and replaced the exploded bulbs with new ones.

Historical photo of the Mansion’s Living room. Josefita painted the picture and it still hangs in the room today.

Another incident involved an antique table. This table belonged to the Mandefield family, the original owners of the mansion. The table, I’m told, is nearly 300 years old. It’s a large table a can easily seat 15 people. The table is stored in a locked room outside the main house and is used in the mansion only for special occasions, such as private parties. For all its beauty and grandeur, this table is not without its own eerie secrets. I personally arranged flatware and the usual restaurant table decorations upon the table without any problems. But when the glassware was in place, I began to send something was wrong. As soon as the glasses were set, they began exploding, sending shattered bits of glass throughout the dining room. Right after this happened, I noticed other strange things take place. First, the large double doors, which swing on pivots and open into the kitchen, would fully open all by themselves. Then the water faucets would turn on.

In 1980, I hired a bartender, Birdie Tapia, who actually saw the ghost of Josefita face-to-face. Walking up the stairs to the second-floor attic, Birdie went inside to get supplies. Birdie’s eyes were drawn towards an old rocking chair stored in the room as the little room was flooded with light. Lifting herself off the chair was the ghost of Josefita! As Birdie tells it, she promptly turned and ran to the door and never to entered the attic/supply room. She was terrified by the encounter, and I’m sure she will not forget it. The rocker has since been moved from the storage room and placed on the second-floor stair landing.

Other newspaper articles are posted below.


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