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Home New Mexico San Miguel County Las Vegas Historical Markers Montezuma Hotel Complex

Montezuma Hotel Complex

6 mi. NW of Las Vegas in Gallinas Canyon, Las Vegas, NM, USA
Telephone: (505) 454-4221

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 39' 15.4566", -105° 16' 54.8778"
  National Register of Historic Places
    Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Montezuma Hotel Complex was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 03, 1974.
StoppingPoints.com Editorial on Montezuma Hotel Complex:
The Montezuma Castle is a 90,000 square foot, 400 room Queen Anne-style hotel building erected just northwest of the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1886 (the site was at the time called Las Vegas Hot Springs, but is now known as Montezuma). The current castle is actually the third on the site, the first two (dating to 1881 and 1885) were the first buildings in New Mexico to have electric lighting, and they both burned down.

The Montezuma Castle, on the campus of the Armand Hammer United World College, May 2003The castle was originally constructed by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad as a luxury hotel, capitalizing on the natural hot springs on the site. These were widely thought to ease the suffering of people with tuberculosis, chronic rheumatism, gout, biliary, and renal calculi. The nearby Gallinas Creek also provided excellent trout fishing. Guests included Theodore Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Jesse James, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan. The visitors to the Hot Springs represent every part of the continent of America, and nearly every tourist from abroad who crosses the continent by the southerly route stops there for a time.

In addition to the natural recreation available in Montezuma, the hotel provided bowling alleys and billiard rooms. The building was designed and construction was overseen by the great Chicago architects Burnham and Root.

It operated as a hotel until October 31, 1903. The building was used as a training center by Jim Flynn when he was preparing for his 1912 boxing match with Jack Johnson (the fight was held in nearby Las Vegas, New Mexico). The complex was briefly owned by the YMCA, then operated as a Baptist college from 1922 until 1931. The Southern Baptist Church sold it to the Catholic Church in 1937, and it was operated as a seminary for Mexican Jesuits until 1972. The building then sat empty for a decade and was subject to significant vandalism and decay. The Jesuits made a little money renting the building out as the set for the low budget horror movie The Evil in 1978.

In 1981, the castle was purchased by industrialist and philanthropist Armand Hammer for use as a United World College. In 1997, it was placed on the list of America's Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, along with landmarks like Ellis Island. In 2000 and 2001, the school invested over $12 million restoring the building, and it has won awards as one of the great historical restorations in the United States. It is also the first historic property west of the Mississippi to be designated one of America's Treasures by the White House Millennium Council.

Montezuma Castle Tours

UWC-USA is pleased to provide free, student-led tours of the Montezuma Castle on designated Wednesdays and Saturdays. While the tour is free, donations to the school are certainly appreciated.

Reservations are not necessary for the tours. In unusual circumstances, castle tours may be cancelled with little notice. On weekdays, information on tours may be obtained at (505) 454-4221. On Saturdays, UWC's Security division will have the most current information about the specific tour scheduled for that day; please call (505) 454-4288 to contact them.

Last updated: 10/16/2009 23:05:48
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Montezuma Hotel Complex Historical Marker Location Map, Las Vegas, New Mexico