Inside the Capitol

Sunday, October 21, 2007

10-31 Capital City Goblins

WED, 10-31-07

SANTA FE - In case you happen to wonder about some of the laws and regulations coming out of state government, remember, New Mexico has the ghostliest capital city in the nation.
And many of those ghosts haunt buildings where state business is transacted or where lawmakers stay while in the Capital City.
Santa Fe has so many ghosts hanging around that tours of haunted spots are regularly conducted on summer evenings.
One of the most popular stops for ghost tours is La Posada, where the spirit of Julia Staab has roamed the hallways for some 115 years. Tour groups are taken to Room 256, at the head of the stairs, just off the lobby, where a knock on the door sometimes is said to bring an answer from Julia.
The former Mrs. Staab does not like her room to be disturbed. Guests are warned that she might appear. During renovations, workers say they find their tools and materials unexplainably strewn about or missing. Some even claim to have seen her.
A popular television mystery show once featured La Posada. Ghost stories also are told about La Fonda, the St. Francis Hotel and the Loretto Inn, three other popular lawmaker hangouts.
Another stop on ghost tours is the former ballroom in Sena Plaza on Palace Street, where the Territorial Legislature met for several years after the state's second Capitol building was torched, reportedly by Albuquerqueans, in the late 1880s.
But the most famous ghost stories involve the states' most recent capitol buildings. The most popular story involves the notorious La Llorona, a figure who appears in fables throughout the Southwest and Mexico.
According to the Santa Fe version, in the early days of the city, a beautiful woman grew tired of her children and threw them to their death in the Santa Fe River. After an immediate c change of heart, she \chased along the riverbank trying to save them but tripped, hit her head on a rock and died also.
Because of her evil deed, the priest would not allow her to be buried in the church cemetery, but ordered that she be buried near the river where she died.
The state of New Mexico later built a new Capitol on that spot. For many years custodians in the building have reported sightings of La Llorona - the crying woman - as she leaves her resting place on the nightly search for her children.
One custodian is said to have reported the apparition passed through him as it hurried down a hallway. He resigned the following morning.
That capitol is now the Bataan Building, which houses several agencies of state government. A new Capitol was constructed in 1967, but somehow, when the story is retold, La Llorona is still buried "under the state Capitol."
As a result, some workers in the new Capitol are said to wonder whether La Llorona might have moved, along with the seat of state government.
When the present Capitol was renovated 20 years ago, the legislative appropriation included "one percent for the arts." Local sculptor Glenna Goodacre, creator of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D, C, was asked to place several of her life-size bronzes throughout the Capitol so lawmakers could decide which of them they might like to purchase.
One of the figures was that of a woman, taking a long stride, with her dress flowing behind her. State employees quickly named it La Llorona and convinced the decision makers to veto that purchase.
During the Capitol renovation, the governor and Legislature moved across the street to the Public Employees Retirement Association building. The massive structure, with two floors below ground, sits atop Santa Fe's first cemetery - the one denied to La Llorona.
When ground was broken for the building, workers were told to save the caskets for burial in another cemetery. But since most of the caskets were pine boxes, there was considerable disturbance to the old cemetery
Ever since the state office building opened in the early 1960s, employees have reported elevators going up and down with no one in them, lights flicking on and off, doors opening and shutting mysteriously, and drafts coming from nowhere in the windowless bottom floors.
Don't be too surprised if someday a state employee asks for hazardous duty pay.
This will be it for a week or so.

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