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La Fonda is remodeling, selling furnishings

This canvas art print of Peter Hurd's "Eve of St. John" is one of dozens of posters and pieces of art the La Fonda Hotel in selling. The hotel is selling old funture and other items. The decorations are in a warehouse in Santa Fe, Tuesday May 14, 2013. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

This canvas art print of Peter Hurd’s “Eve of St. John” is one of dozens of posters and pieces of art the La Fonda Hotel in selling. The hotel is selling old funture and other items. The decorations are in a warehouse in Santa Fe, Tuesday May 14, 2013. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE, N.M. — Posters of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers, Zozobra, “The Milagro Beanfield War” and a few renegades from Tokyo and France tilt against one another in a Pacheco Street warehouse.

Their combined heft weighs against a jumble of wooden minirefrigerator cabinets. A wrought iron chandelier as wide as a well leans limply across the cement floor.

“It takes about five guys to carry them,” La Fonda concierge Rebecca Hammer said of the wagon-wheel light fixtures that once graced the hotel entryway.

If you go
WHAT: Sale of La Fonda furnishings
WHEN: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: 1591 Pacheco St.
COST: Entry free, cost of items varies

Some 200 painted lamps and lanterns line the back wall of the 7,000-square-foot warehouse, temporary home to the signature artwork and furnishings of La Fonda.


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The Santa Fe landmark is selling pieces of its past in a warehouse at 1591 Pacheco Street this weekend. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, visitors can buy their own slice of Santa Fe Style as the hotel undergoes a major renovation. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

Framed posters lean against nearly every stick of furniture, bellwethers of decades of hanging in guest rooms, corridors and common areas. There is artwork commemorating every conceivable city event, including the Santa Fe Indian Market, the opera, the chamber music festival and more. There’s a poster of that famous photograph of Georgia O’Keeffe on the back of a motorcycle and one of Ansel Adams’ classic “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” There are original paintings by the hotel’s resident artist Ernest Martinez — all signed and dated on the back. Martinez painted the windows surrounding diners at the hotel’s La Plazuela restaurant.

Most of the posters will be priced from $15-$50.

“We easily have 700 posters,” said Hammer, who serves as curator and tour guide of the event. “We have a loft of signed work as well. But let me show you the sea of lamps.”

The “sea” includes the primary-colored triangular wooden lamp bases that once sat on room night stands, as well as a bevy of wire lanterns. The lanterns once hung in elevator lobbies and from corridor ceilings.

Color is rampant in the rainbow of hand-painted furniture, most of which is destined for another former Harvey House hotel in Winslow, Ariz. Artisans painted headboards, side tables and chairs in a floral whimsy of blooms, leaves and vines. A few of the scalloped twin headboards capture the style of original La Fonda designer Mary Jane Colter. The hotel plans to transform them into corridor artwork.

“We want everyone to see them. It’s folk art,” said Barbara Felix, the hotel’s renovation architect. “The carved headboards were painted by a man out of Kansas City. And they’re all different.”


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Eighty-five original hand-painted tin mirrors will be cleaned and reinforced.

“It’s that folk art whimsy of the flowers — that’s what we want,” Felix added.

The hotel will reproduce and enlarge its new headboards based on the smaller originals.

“These are all single beds,” Felix said. “It was (like) the Lucy and Desi era — you weren’t allowed to sleep with your partner.”

For those who prefer cushier furnishings, a mountain of orange overstuffed couches and lounge chairs beckon. Stacks of minirefrigerators and stainless mirrored medicine cabinets beg for recycling.

As they leafed through the leaning towers of posters, La Fonda employees discovered some original art they plan to clean and re-hang. There are Santa Fe Indian School-style paintings, including some by standouts such as Harrison Begay and Gerald Nailor.

When the late Sam and Ethel Ballen bought the hotel from the Harvey House chain in 1968, they received posters from nearly every event staged by local organizers. The artwork was often given in thanks for a donation. There are posters of fighter jets and racehorses, as well the festival- and market-related pieces.

“It’s the continuation of the style,” Felix said. “We did a ton of research about posters and furniture. It’s taking the bones or the soul of what was there and continuing. We’re maintaining the whimsy.”

Opened in 1922, La Fonda anchors the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail and remains the only hotel on the Plaza. Reports of an inn at this location date to the 1600s, making La Fonda the most historic hotel in Santa Fe. Its restaurant, La Plazuela, was renovated in 2009. Renovation of the rest of the hotel is slated for completion in August in time for the Santa Fe Indian Market.