Boutique lodging is the cure for ailing hospital
November 18, 2010
Jessica Cassyle Carr
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.”
All photos by Sergio Salvador salvadorphoto.com
This suite is located in the surgeon's quarters. A separate structure behind the main building, the interiors here remain more true to the original than the rest of the conversion. Botanical art and crushed velvet tuxedo sofas accented with upholstery nails are found in all of the hotel's suites.
The parlor on the first floor is where continental breakfast—which includes house-made quiche and locally acquired pastries and sausage—is served until 11 a.m. each day. Table tops are decorated with images of old maps of Downtown Albuquerque, which reveal that Central Avenue was once known as Rail Road Avenue.
The drawing room—a place where people once withdrew after dinner—is situated near the hotel's entrance on the first level. The room is decked in vintage ephemera including Albuquerque postcards, an AT & SF railroad map and toy trains.
David Oberstein, Santa Fe resident and one of the hotel's owners, lounges in the drawing room.
Medical decor is continued on the fourth floor in the Apothecary Lounge—a name that had to be approved by the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy. The bar is armed with an extensive bitters program, small plates, a soundtrack of crooners and torch singers, and a rooftop patio with panoramic views of the skyline. Note: The entire hotel—even outdoor areas—is smoke-free.
This display in a hallway on the third floor showcases hat boxes. Other hallway displays throughout the hotel—some railroad and medically themed—reflect the building's history and period of origin.
A hallway runs along the east wing on the first level, facing Central. The windows pictured here are among more than 60 varieties on the property, all of which had to be restored or replaced to match the originals.
The mail room, framed by metal curtains, features six work stations, art derived from 1926 newspaper articles about the opening of the Santa Fe Hospital, and a custom-made desk outfitted with antique printer's drawers. The glass top of the desk displays postal mementos—stamps and postcards—as well as printer blocks