As Halloween approaches, so does the anomalous desire to be scared. While watching a good horror movie or meandering through one of those haunted houses with actors playing ghouls might do the trick, Santa Fe, with its lengthy history of bloodshed and turmoil, has plenty of spooky places to satisfy one’s urge to be frightened. Generation Next staffers investigated some local dark and abandoned sites and rated them on a scale of one to five screams. But be warned: Before you go out on your own expedition, you may encounter real danger and challenges, such as structurally unsafe buildings, wild animals, strangers and the law. Take heed and do not do anything that puts you or someone else at risk.
St. Catherine Indian School — 5 Screams
On a cold Friday afternoon, the crystalline light of the moon poured over the monolithic steeple of St. Catherine Indian School. The wind howled through the broken windows and veins of hallways, sounding like a deep and tired sigh. Inside one of the unsecured buildings on the now-deserted campus near a cemetery, rooms are barren, hallways are deadened with silence and walls are covered in graffiti. A staircase creepily travels to an attic, where a wooden floor rots like a corpse. The window is shattered, gathering eerie moonlight and dust. St. Catherine is now a world of shadows and lore. For better or for worse, this place is undergoing construction, and entrance to the campus is all the more difficult and dangerous.
The tunnels of “Heaven and Hell” — 3.5 Screams
Five minutes from St. Catherine, under Paseo de Peralta, are two loric tunnels known to many as “Heaven and Hell.” Above one tunnel, a faint “Hell” is spray-painted. Fittingly, the mouth of the tunnel is quickly brimmed with darkness. There is true artistic expression in the form of graffiti along the insides of “Hell,” but as you venture deeper, the art fades with the light. Slowly, the tunnel grows cold. Without light to see, there is only sound to lead you. The coarseness of the sand and your heavy breath will echo down the hall of “Hell,” combining to sound like an animal grinding its teeth. As shadows consume the tunnel, paranoia ensues. As you wander farther, you may think someone, or something, is watching, following, waiting. Then there is “Heaven,” whose gates allow more light and space. The walls are also decorated with art but with less frequency. There is a little more comfort provided in “Heaven,” but the darkness is inevitably the same. “Heaven” and “Hell” will both take you into an uneasy void of uncertainty.
“House of the Virgins” — 2.5 Screams
In the 1950s, the far south end of Don Gaspar Avenue next to Old Pecos Trail was the site of a convent. Now, the only activity stemming from the building is a glowing, lonesome window. But Marcus Lujan, a local thrill-seeker and a St. Michael’s High School senior, says he has some inside spook scoop on the place. “The ghost of the mother superior is said to haunt the former convent as she is seen swinging from the chandelier and making otherwise unexplained noises in the house,” he said. The idea of a phantom mother superior pulling aerial antics on a chandelier should be enough to tempt the most dedicated of ghost hunters, but there’s more. Entrance to the convent itself is limited, and behind one of its gates is an imposing cracked wall, with the message “Shrine of Virginity.” This “Shrine of Virginity” listed the convent’s philosophies in blue: “God prefers virgins” and “Virgins are next to God.” Perched atop is an aged marble statue of the Virgin Mary, vines enveloping her figure. Why can religious imagery be frightening? Fear does not come from what the religion is worshipping but rather is born from what the religion is battling against. Sin and the eternal damnation of the soul is what drives fear into this convent, perhaps.
La Posada de Santa Fe — 4 Screams
Long before it became a hotel, La Posada was one of the most luxurious mansions in 1800s New Mexico, home to the wealthy Abraham Staab and his wife, Julia . The mansion’s third-story ballroom was the central hot spot for Santa Fe’s social elite, with Julia its social butterfly. Rumors and legends tell us that she lost faith somewhere along the way — was it because of the loss of a child or neglect? — and that her hair turned white overnight. As she fell into a deep depression, Julia would lock herself in her chamber. She died shortly thereafter. The Staab mansion was turned into a hotel by her descendants, but over the years hotel staff, management and guests began reporting activities that seem, well, ghostly. From glasses flying off the shelves of the bar on a weekly basis to unexplained phone calls to the front desk coming from Julia’s unoccupied stateroom, La Posada seems ripe with poltergeist activity. The entrance to the original mansion can be found inside the lobby, and guests can stay inside Julia’s actual room. If choosing to check-in at La Posada, be wary of the woman in black.
The Abandoned St. Vincent’s Hospital — 3.5 Screams
What is now the Drury Plaza Hotel used to be home to St. Vincent hospital. Like any hospital, patients came and went, as did sickness and suffering. Once the hospital moved to its new facility on St. Michael’s Drive, the building was used for state offices and later a nursing home. After years of decay, half of the building was renovated and turned into a new hotel. Yet a part of the property, Marian Hall, remains unrenovated, invoking a creepy aura. Inside this unused portion, lights flicker, revealing long, ominous hallways. Legend has it that hotel guests still hear a baby’s cry coming from what was the hospital’s room 311. The former hospital leaves much up to the imagination, making a bystander wonder what could have possibly happened to each individual life in this building, and what spirits might still be residing there alongside the guests or wandering alone in the dark building next to it?
Gabriel Biadora is a senior at St. Michael’s High School, contact him at email@example.com.
Sofia Ortiz is a senior at St. Michael’s High School, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.