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‘Haunted Hotels’ details otherworldly encounters across NM

Jesse Herron always wanted to live in a haunted house.

“But I wanted Casper,” he says with a laugh. “I didn’t want evil, demonic ones.”

Yet that’s what he inherited when he purchased what is now the Painted Lady Bed & Brew in the Sawmill District in Albuquerque.

Built in the 1880s, it was originally called the Swastika Saloon.

“It was a dance hall with a ‘wine room,’ ” Herron says. “That was code for ‘brothel.’ ”

It’s taken Herron five years to get the business up and running.

During that time, he’s researched the history of the building.

“Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett allegedly stayed here,” he says. “There’s so much history soaking up in the adobe.”

Herron’s property is one of a dozen featured in the new book “Haunted Hotels & Ghostly Getaways of New Mexico” by Donna Blake Birchell.

The New Mexico native worked about nine months on the book.

“I had to work very hard for this one,” Blake Birchell says. “My editors weren’t convinced that it would sell, and I had to get Albuquerque on board. It was difficult to find a property that would tell me about being haunted. Most of them want to be a resort and not go with the ghostly aspect of it.”

Blake Birchell says Herron contacted her about his “ghostly encounters” and was willing to be in the book.

The owner’s suite is the most haunted room of the property, and Herron experienced a variety of ghostly visits, from the comical to the hair-raising.

Herron says there were three apparitions living in his suite and that he came to an agreement with the one remaining after a cleanse.

“Leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone,” Herron says of the deal with the ghost. “That’s what I would tell him.”

The apparition didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.

“He began to torment my dog,” Herron says. “My dog would yelp in pain, and I noticed bloody marks on his body, from being bitten or poked by something.”

Blake Birchell says that growing up in New Mexico, she was fascinated by the stories her father told her from all over the state.

In the book, she visits places in Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Eagle Nest, Taos, Santa Fe, Cimarron, Las Vegas, Lincoln, Chama and Hatch/Rodey.

“At the St. James in Cimarron, there is so much history there,” Blake Birchell says. “I’ve stayed in the Mary Lambert room, and I didn’t have experiences in that room.”

She says some guests have encountered a ghost that smells like rose-type perfume and likes to play with people’s toes.

Blake Birchell will have a book signing at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Painted Lady Bed & Brew.

“It’s been really fun to have this book out right before Halloween,” Blake Birchell says. “People are enjoying hearing some of the new stories.”

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