Shaffer Hotel, Mountainair, NM (History)

The Shaffer Hotel was built in 1923 by Clem “Pop” Shaffer who moved to Mountainair in 1908 with his wife Pearl to practice his blacksmith trade. He set up his blacksmith shop with an adjacent hardware and casket making shop on Main Street, but Pearl died of pneumonia before the end of their first year in town. Shaffer married his second wife, Lena Imboden, a native of Mountainair, in 1913. The two were fortunate enough to strike good water behind the blacksmith shop and the Shaffer’s began selling piped water to the nearby businesses as well as barrels to local residents at 10 cents a barrel. They were unfortunate enough that the blacksmith shop and hardware store burned down in 1922.

Original Shaffer blacksmith shop on the site of the current hotel.

Local residents convinced Shaffer to build a hotel on the site of his old shop and, understandably dubious of wooden structures, he built the cast-concrete Shaffer Hotel, the concrete reinforced with iron scraps or fractions from his now defunct blacksmith business. He continued to make modifications on the property, adding the restaurant in 1929 with its original ceiling artwork and chandeliers, and the rock inlaid fence surrounding the property (Albuquerque Journal, 8/27/01). There are unconfirmed reports that a Ford dealership and garage once operated behind the hotel
and also that the coffin workshop continued. Shaffer died in 1964 and Lena, who ended up running the hotel when Shaffer became a full time artist, died in 1978, shortly before the hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Clem “Pop” Shaffer in his later years

Ownership then went through a series of owners, many from out of state, until it finally closed its doors without notice in May of 2000 (Albuquerque Journal, 5/4/00). The Bank of Belen foreclosed on the property in the summer of 2001 and auctioned it off on the steps of the Torrance County Courthouse in September of that year, with the bank itself being the sole bidder and buying the property for resale (Albuquerque Journal, 9/6/01). Despite being purchased in 2002 by a pair of antique dealers from California who had hopes of renovating the hotel, nothing much was done and the hotel fell into disrepair.
In 2004, Joel Marks purchased the hotel and began a $1 million renovation that took the original 30 guest rooms down to 19, many with private bathrooms. The hotel reopened in December of 2005 (Albuquerque Journal, 1/23/06). This is when the first published reports of hauntings at the hotel appear. Marks claimed that the east hallway upstairs was the most haunted part of the hotel, possibly, he speculated, because it is directly above the hand painted ceiling of the restaurant that Shaffer dedicated so much time to. The hotel changed hands again in January of 2011 when Emma Pack and her husband purchased the property. In a strange coincidence, shortly after the purchase, their home in Willard burned down, much like the Shaffer’s did in 1928
(Mountain View Telegraph, 3/17/11).

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