Pop Shaffer

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

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