The second part of our NM trip was spent in Santa Fe. The original town name is La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís, or the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi. We stayed at the Inn at Loretto which is adjacent to the famous Loretto Chapel. The Chapel is noted for its amazing staircase:
"When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.
The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.
The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction."
Interestingly, the chapel has be "decommissioned" by the Catholic church, there is now a $3.00 charge to get in, and a primary use seems to be weddings. Sad.
The Inn at Loretto
The Inn is only a block from the central plaza, so we were able to walk to everthing that we wanted to see or do - exploring the galleries, marveling at the lovely Native American handcrafts at the Governor's Palace, walking along Canyon Road, dining at La Posada de Santa Fe and the Ore House, and wandering through 109 East Palace:
"Everybody knows J. Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller and many of the military minds that directed the effort to develop the atomic bomb. Nobody outside of Los Alamos knew Dorothy McKibben. McKibben who ran 109 East Palace was like the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of this war time "Hamlet"-like drama; she viewed the action not from the heart of the research but from the outside at the gateway where she issued security passes, helped new personnel settle in, dealt with complaints about water pressure, food supplies, etc. She knew everything and nothing about the community she helped as she wasn't privy to the secret goal of the Los Alamos community."