Pop Shaffer

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Pop Shaffer

There once was a time a long while back in the history of New Mexico that a fellow named Clem “Pop” Shaffer lived. He arrived into the “happening” little town of Mountainair in 1908. Later in his life (15 years) he was evidently convinced to turn his old mechanic shop/building into a Frontier Hotel for the weary railroad men that were doing business in the vicinity. NOTE: Please be sure to click on the pics so you can see more detail.

Way back in the day – no photo source.

As I’m penning this I realize that I really don’t have any details from which to accurately tell his story – so to be brutally honest, I’m giving our readers the “gist” of what we learned via word of mouth, reading the framed articles and such in the lobby of the vintage Shaffer Hotel.

Located due South of Santa Fe and SE of Albuquerque

Someone locally had told us that there was a cool old hotel on the other side of town (Mountainair) that was on the market for $50K. The next day we took a day trip and drove down to the hotel from our camp site up at Manzano Mountains State Park. The price, the terms “old”, and “hotel” was very intriguing to me since I spent most of my career working in the resort hotel business.

Street scene currently
Owners say the new restaurant will be a popular reason to visit

This is a remarkable concrete fence
Note the incredible details of the fence
Still looks awesome after all the years!

So glad we took the drive over to see Mountainair and to see the hotel. While outside photographing we were met by an ambitious dog that broke the collar trying to run across the street to meet our schnauzer Pickle. About scared me to death but fortunately the dog was very friendly. The dog’s owner rushed over to apologize for the bum rush on our dog and turned out to be one of the new owners of the hotel.

Front desk and Info desk
Front lobby with old photos and news clippings
Pueblo deco Dining Room
Stained glass entrance to Dining Room

The friendly lady was Martina vonKutzleben wife of Ed. Both had every possible attribute to be excellent hoteliers as they were welcoming, friendly and anxious to tell us with excitement about their big new project! Martina gave Liz and I a nice tour of the hotel and we enjoyed seeing the property and understanding the extent of the work ahead for the 96 year old structure. Ed was fun to talk with and he shared with us about his ideas for the renovation, the restaurant concept and more. Ed seemed to be pretty handy with tools and as such he’ll be able to do much of the work.

Front Lobby with stairs leading to guest rooms
Ornate fireplace in Dining Room

The property is one of the very few remaining Pueblo-Deco buildings in existence and has been placed on the National Historic Registry. The hotel was built with 19 rooms and a few are referred to as “Cowboy” rooms since they don’t have private bathrooms.

I’ve had some contact with Pop Shaffer’s family via Facebook. Steve Shaffer I suspect is a Grandson and Stephanie Sams is maybe a Great Granddaughter? I’m hoping that they might be able to chime in on Facebook and give us all more insights about the family and history on Clem and this very cool old hotel.

Cool old building across the street from hotel – painted a few years back for a film that was made in the area.

We’re excited for the future of the hotel and wish Martina and Ed the very best of luck with the renovations and reopening of this classic gem. Visit the Hotel Shaffer next time you’re in that area of New Mexico!

Chris Pipes
chris@pipestraveler.com
10 Comments
  • Clark Waters
    Posted at 12:11h, 20 June Reply

    Well hold my beer and watch this !!! Very cool hotel, the decor inside and out really put you back in time for what was a rough and tumble era. I would like to see the hotel and check it out myself. Great pictures and reportage Mr. Pipes.
    Regards
    ECW

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 02:26h, 21 June Reply

      thanks. It was a terrific place to explore and learn about. You would have enjoyed it as much as we did! Stay tuned for more cool stuff to come…

  • Susan Ambrose
    Posted at 16:13h, 20 June Reply

    looks like a really nice place to spend some time

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 02:23h, 21 June Reply

      Thank you for your note….it was a cool little property for a quick 1-2 nighter when they get it ready. The mountains around that area are beautiful and fun to explore.

  • Myron K Geohagan
    Posted at 17:13h, 20 June Reply

    Great story!

  • Kathleen Martin
    Posted at 20:39h, 20 June Reply

    Fascinating! Ed and Martina must be very YOUNG to take on a project of this magnitude…although it looks like it has been cared for in a special way over the years. It will be fun to watch the progress and someday visit it ourselves. Thanks, Pipes3 for sharing!

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 02:20h, 21 June Reply

      Glad you liked the reportage of this very cool place. Not sure of Ed & Martina’s age but they are not spring chicks but not old either….they are ambitious & enthusiastic about the undertaking! Nice folks and we’ll be checking in with them at a later date. Thanks for following along with us!

  • Jerry Wayne
    Posted at 23:02h, 20 June Reply

    swastikas still there?
    I’d love to see this place

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 02:16h, 21 June Reply

      I think the German/Nazi stigma was wayy too much for them to continue even though they were early Native American symbols long before Hitler’s reign of terror. JAW I’d LOVE to have had you with us for that stopover. Thanks for following along!

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