On Sept. 5, 1926, Albuquerque began weeklong festivities to mark the opening of the Santa Fe Hospital. Built in the Italianate architecture style, the facility was designated to treat employees of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway company. In the '40s the name was changed to the AT & SF Hospital and later, in the '80s, was purchased by a group of psychiatrists who named it Memorial Hospital. This week sees another grand opening for the building at Central Avenue and I-25. It's come back to life as the Hotel Parq Central.
The boutique hotel, which had a soft opening at the end of September, was realized at a cost of $21 million, and with support from the city and the Huning Highland Historic District Neighborhood Association. Considered a significant contribution to the national historic sub-district, it was imperative that the restoration had little impact on the architecture.
"We always felt like we were stewards of the property," says David Oberstein, one of the hotel's seven owners. "There's a lot of historic properties in Albuquerque that have been lost for one reason or another," he says. (Recall: the Alvarado Hotel, the Commercial Club, Castle Huning, Hotel Franciscan.) "We were pleased to be able to restore this to a use that was more open to the public."
While the main building’s insides were gutted all the way down to concrete bones, its original layout remains intact. Found throughout the interior—designed by Heather Van Luchene of HVL Interiors in Santa Fe—are elements that pay homage to the 84-year-old structure's history. Tiles on columns in the lobby, which were custom made in Silver City, mimic the tiles on the building's exterior. Common areas are decorated with medical and railroad paraphernalia, and each room contains a framed piece of Depression glass.
Ed Boles is a historic preservation planner with the city. "It shows that a rehabilitation/conversion project can respect a historic building's existing qualities," he says, "while imparting some fitting new qualities related to the new use."
Some may associate a certain spookiness with a hospital-turned-hotel. "I think a lot of people would like to believe that," says Marc Bertram, another of the owners. He assures there have been no reports of run-ins with things from beyond. Meanwhile, Oberstein jokes, "Casper was born here."