Sunday, July 27, 2014

Red Hatters Travel to Historic Old Mesilla, New Mexico

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Red Hat Society New Mexico Roadrunner Chapter members of Alamogordo, New Mexico traveled to Old Mesilla, NM to engage in the official Red Hat Society sport of shopping and, of course, a lovely lunch. On the way, we stopped to pick up a friend, Mildred Evascovich, who formerly lived in Alamogordo and now resides in Las Cruces, N. M.

There are a number of lovely shops displaying pottery, jewelry, paintings, clothing, shoes, etc. etc. Prices are reasonable and we took great advantage by buying a number of items. One I really like is a sculpture of a roadrunner bird and I just had to have it. Others bought shoes, clothing and paintings.

After a short rest in the center of the Plaza, we went to the Double Eagle Restaurant which has been placed on the United States National Register of Historic Places by the Department of the Interior. In 1970, Robert O. Anderson (born in Roswell, N.M.) bought the building and turned it into a restaurant. He was president of Atlantic Richfield Oil. He and interior designer , John Miegs, brought in all the crystal, art and antiques. Anderson named the restaurant after money and the $20 gold piece was called the Double Eagle.

In 1984, C. W. "Buddy" Ritter and his wife, Margaret became the owners and they have added to the extensive collection of turn of the century art and antiques.

At the Double Eagle entry you will walk through the post-Civil War 1,000 pound cast iron gilded gates to a shaded entry way to the massive antique oak front door. The lobby sports a littering, gilded, baccarat crystal chandelier hanging from the pressed tin ceiling. To the left is the 30 foot hand-carved oak and walnut Eastlake style bar framed with four Corinthian columns in gold leaf. The back bar is illuminated by two Imperial French floral "coronas": each over 5 feet tall, with 23 lighted brass flowers, some of which have blue or white Lalique crystal rosette shades. Hanging above the bar are two magnificent, classic French Baccarat crystal chandeliers measuring seven feet tall and three feet wide. The ceiling is of highly decorated pressed tin accented with 18 karat gold.

One massive oil work hanging on the wall inside is "Stacey", circa 1900-1910 which came from the estate sale of the notorious New Mexico madam, Silver City Millie. Millie, finally forced out of "business", held her estate sale well before her death. Buddy Ritter thought there might be some items of interest and convinced his reluctant wife to drive to Silver City with him after he told her the sale was in a warehouse and not the house of ill repute. Still, she just couldn't imagine that woman having anything she would want in her home or the Double Eagle. As they walked into the warehouse, Millie called out in her loud rambunctious voice, "Buddy Ritter! I would know you anywhere! You look just like your grandfather!"

Mrs. Ritter simply turned, walked outside, got into the car, locked the doors and stared straight ahead. Mr. Ritter, though stunned himself at the reception, purchased several items for the Double Eagle. It was an extremely long and silent trip on the return home.

The Lew Wallace Salon was named after a Territorial Governor who wrote the famous novel "Ben Hur". Several art works adorn the walls and there is an 1857 map of New Mexico and Arizona showing Mesilla as the Capitol of Arizona with both territories extending to California.

The restaurant is massive and there are numerous rooms, The Gadsden Room, The Billy The Kid Patio, The Maximilian Room and the Isabela Ballroom, which I won't write about here. However, there is one other room that should be mentioned:

The Carlotta Salon - The Ghost Room

Named for Marie Charlotte, born in 1840, a Princess of Belgium. She was the wife of Maximilian, Archduke of Austria. In 1864, Napoleon sent troops to Mexico to support the installation of Maximilian and Marie Charlotte as Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlotta of Mexico. Their reign lasted until 1867 when Maximilian  was executed and Carlotta was exiled to Belgium.

There are two oval portraits on one wall, of the original owners of this home, Senor and Senora Maes. It was a home from 1849 until the 1960's, housing some of the Mesilla Valley's most prominent families. The Maes Family were import/exporters in Santa Fe and, after the Mexican-American War of 1846-1847 and the conquest and confiscation of the northern half of Mexico to be the western half of the United States, they moved south to help found Mesilla as a permanent Settlement. With such a large house, there were many servants, one of which was a teenage girl named Inez. The oldest Maes boy was named Armando and he fell in love with Inez. Senora Maes was adamant that her son should not marry a maid. She had planned to make a marriage for him with another wealthy family in Chihuahua City or maybe even Mexico City.

Senora Maes fired Inez, sent her from the house and forbade Armando from ever seeing Inez again, but love will find a way. One day Senora Maes came home unexpectedly, from a trip and found Armando and Inez entwined in Armando's bedroom - now the Caroltta Salon. She was so outraged, she grabbed a pair of sewing shears, attacking Inez and stabbing her to death. In the struggle, she accidentally stabbed Armando. He spoke one word "Inez" before slipping into a coma and he died three days later.

It is said that the ghosts of the young lovers haunt the Carlotta Salon and the restaurant to this day. If the restaurant isn't overly busy, someone will usually take you into the salon and tell the story. Today, it was very busy and a lady who had just heard the story, Blanca from San Antonio, Texas, related it to the Red Hatters as we stood around the large elegantly set dining table in the middle of the room.

Before I forget to mention it, the food is delicious, reasonably priced, and very well prepared.

L to R: VQ Penny, Alice, Margie, friend Mildred, Dorothy E. and Darla taking a shopping break in the plaza

Mildred and Dorothy E. in the Double Eagle. It turns out that they've known each other for years.
Margie and Alice. Margie is always creating new fun hats.
VQ Penny, our birthday girl in July.
L to R: Darla, Margie and Alice waiting on that delicious food to appear
L to R: Mildred, Dorothy E. and VQ Penny
VQ Penny and Queen Ladybird (Carla) (Photo by Darla Shelley)
Blanca, a teacher from San Antonio, Texas relating the ghost story

Hope you enjoy reading some of the history of the Double Eagle Restaurant. To learn even more, their web address is:  Thanks to the Double Eagle establishment for their comprehensive brochure which was of tremendous help in writing this blog today.

This is all I have to say for now.

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