In the 1880’s Las Vegas NM was the big town, bigger and richer than Santa Fe or Albuquerque. There are nearly 1000 buildings here on the National Register of Historic Places! The heart of the City was the beautiful Plaza Park – still the prettiest plaza in the Southwest. And presiding over the park was the Plaza Hotel, the finest in New Mexico in 1881. The hotel looks just like it did when built – a grand Victorian façade with three floors of 14’ ceilings and huge windows overlooking the Plaza, topped like a wedding cake with fanciful scrolls. Originally there were 37 guest rooms, a saloon, dance hall and restaurant. Matching walnut staircases wind elegantly from the lobby to all floors. Then and now everyone stayed here, from Doc Holliday to Tommy Lee Jones. The Plaza Hotel has starred in movies and TV from Tom Mix silent pictures to Longmire, Easy Rider and No Country for Old Men. The Plaza building had an award winning million-dollar renovation by Wid Slick in 1982.
While the Plaza Hotel was going up Charles Ilfeld began building Ilfeld’s Department Store next door. Business was so good that in 1891 Ilfeld added on, tripling the size of his Italianate masterpiece. This was the biggest department store in the Southwest, renowned as the Grand Emporium. In 2006 the Ilfeld building was added to the Plaza Hotel with a $5 million renovation. The new addition provided 35 additional guest rooms with a grand Ballroom and meeting space, making the Plaza Hotel the ideal choice for receptions, reunions and conferences in northeast New Mexico.
In 2014 the Plaza and Ilfeld buildings were purchased by Allan Affeldt, who with his team restored the legendary La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ. Allan also bought the Castaneda Hotel across town, and the Ilfeld office building on the Plaza. Already they have put another $1 million into improvements at the Plaza and completed plans for the Castaneda, in what is one of the most highly anticipated restorations in New Mexico. Says Allan:
“We plan to work our way through the Plaza Hotel and then the Castaneda – room by room to create a treasure house of New Mexico art and history. Already we have expanded the ballroom, doubled the bar, brought in historic furniture from La Fonda in Santa Fe, replaced the linens and beds, and rebuilt the front desk and dining room. We have a lot to do, but we promise it will be a little better, every time you come. Your visits will help us restore these wonderful buildings and this remarkable town. We hope to earn your business, and to see you soon!”