Ghost in the KiMo Theater? — Photo courtesy of © Steve Larese
Albuquerque was founded by the Spanish in 1706 and was home to Native Americans long before that. Albuquerque has a history stretching back centuries. Tales of witches, ghosts and skinwalkers have been told in Native American, Spanish and Anglo-Indian cultures for hundreds of years and are now woven into Albuquerque’s collective consciousness. Part of that history lives on as ghost stories.
Many people claim to have experienced unexplained sightings and feelings at the following properties, many of which date back to the early 1700s. At best, Albuquerque’s ghost stories keep the story alive. Scariest of all, many people swear that the living are not alone here.
Ghost Tours of Old Town, Albucreepy Tours, and the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association are great ways to learn more about haunted Albuquerque, and here are 10 of our favorite places that are open to the public. Try them out and see for yourself if you dare.
1. KiMo Theater
The KiMo Theater opened in 1927 and its Pueblo Deco design and decor still amaze today. Inside, cow skulls with bright red eyes, funeral canoes, and Native American motifs, including pre-WWII swastikas, adorn the walls and ceiling of this intimate theater, which hosts everything from films to operas year-round.
It was 1951 when a water heater exploded, killing a 6-year-old boy named Bobby Darnall, Jr. Many believe that Bobby’s playful spirit haunts KiMo, so much so that it has become a tradition for artists to leave out a plate of donuts and trinkets for Bobby. Those who don’t risk disastrous performances fraught with technical issues.
2. High Noon Restaurant & Saloon
Located in Old Town Albuquerque, the city was founded in 1706 and many of the shops and restaurants around the central square were once the homes of the original Spanish families who settled here. This particular building was built in the 1750s and once served as a brothel.
The High Noon Restaurant & Saloon is now best known for its steaks, but staff speak of the lady in the white dress seen in the Santos Room and unexplained noises. Bartenders testify to glasses sliding across the bar and floating through the air at night.
3. Church Street Cafe
This Old Town restaurant serves great New Mexican cuisine and is known for its pet-friendly patio. The mud house is one of the oldest houses in Albuquerque, if not the oldest. It was built in the early 1700s by the Ruiz family, who owned the building until the last family member, Rufina G. Ruiz, passed away at the age of 91.
When current owner Marie Coleman bought the property and began renovating the building as a restaurant, she heard a disembodied voice yelling at her to get rid of the contractor and items were found in a mess. The voice was determined to be that of Rufina’s mother, Sara. Marie began speaking to the spirit, assuring her that she had the best of intentions for Sara’s home.
Things calmed down, but staff over the years have seen the image of a woman in a long black dress disappear into the dining room after hours, and customers have reported sensing her presence, too. Or maybe it’s just the sangria margaritas.
4. La Placita dining rooms
Another restaurant in the old town that was originally the home of the Armijo family. It was built around an enclosed courtyard, hence the name, which is now covered, but has a large poplar growing through it. It was converted into a restaurant in the 1930s and has remained so ever since.
Staff speak of four ghosts who still call La Placita home, including one of a little girl who died in a bedroom here in the late 1880s. Employees hear their names only to realize no one is there and feel inexplicable cold spots. Customers have reported seeing a misty, odorless smoke over their table that dissipates with no explanation.
5. Hotel Andaluz
Lobby of Hotel Andaluz — Photo courtesy of © Steve Larese
Hotel Andaluz was built in 1939 by Conrad Hilton, the famous Hilton Hotel of New Mexico. It was the tallest building in New Mexico at the time and the state’s first air-conditioned building with an elevator. It was only Hilton’s fourth hotel in the United States.
Hilton and Zsa Zsa Gabor honeymooned here in 1942, and guests can rent this penthouse suite for themselves. The property was renamed La Posada de Albuquerque in 1984 and sold, renovated and reopened as Hotel Andaluz in 2009.
Hotel Andaluz has 107 rooms, and a spooky hostess on the seventh floor in a 1940s party dress is looking for one of those rooms. On the 4th floor, an elderly woman in a pink dress can be seen wandering the hallways before disappearing.
6. Bottger Villa
This charming 17th-century bed and breakfast in Old Town was once a 40-room adobe and served as the governor’s mansion in territorial New Mexico until 1845. Charles Bottger purchased the building in 1893, demolished it and built the current American Foursquare style house that stands there in 1910.
It was the first home in Albuquerque to have gas lighting and was named the “Pride of Old Town” after its completion. It later became an inn and notorious gangsters Machine Gun Kelly, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Janis Joplin are just a few of the guests who have stayed here. But some guests apparently never left. Charles Bottger is said to still make his presence felt, as is a lady sighing heavily and a ghost known as “The Lover” who loves to hop into bed with sleeping women.
7. Central Park Hotel
Hotel Parq Central was established in 1926 as the Santa Fe Hospital for employees of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. Built in the grand Italianate style, the building later became a children’s psychiatric facility in the 1980s and was renamed the Memorial Hospital.
Abandoned for years, it opened in 2010 as Hotel Parq Central, a luxury boutique hotel that salutes its railroad history with historical exhibits in the lobby. It also has one of the best rooftop bars in the Southwest, Apothecary, which only serves Prohibition-era drinks.
It’s a modern abode today, but given its history, you can expect some patients and staff to linger in the afterlife. Guests have reported seeing ghosts and unexplained cold spots, particularly on the second floor of the west wing.
8. Haunted Hill at the end of Menaul
The east end of Menaul Boulevard terminates at a parking lot in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, a popular hiking and mountain biking area. Just past the parking lot and trailhead is a juniper-covered hill.
Over the years, Albuquerqueans who hung out here at night have been turned off by the disembodied sounds of screams, rocks being thrown, and the sounds of something heavy being dragged through the gravel. According to the story, a mad hermit lived in a cave nearby and lured and murdered prostitutes here. True or not, many people are confirming something dark in this area.
9. Albuquerque Press Club
Located behind the Hotel Parq Central, the Albuquerque Press Club is a private club for journalists. The log cabin architecture is odd for Albuquerque, which consists mostly of 1920s adobe or bungalows. It was built by the Whittlesey family in 1903, modeled on a Norwegian villa with a huge stone fireplace.
Over the years, rooms have been rented to convalescent patients from the nearby hospital (now Hotel Parq Central). Today, employees report hearing the sound of high heels hitting the wooden floors when no one else is around, voices, the piano playing by itself, and the vision of a woman dressed in black calling the employees to Mrs. M . to name.
10. The Luna Villa
Just a quick 20-mile drive south of Albuquerque in Los Lunas, the Luna Mansion is now a popular restaurant. It was built by the Santa Fe Railway in the 1880s to thank the Luna-Otero family for granting right of way through their extensive estate. Its Victorian Southern Colonial style of adobe is unique to New Mexico.
Josefita Otero loved her home so much that many believe she never left it when she died in 1951. By all accounts, she was a kind woman during her lifetime, and her ghost has been seen on the stairs and in two upstairs rooms that were once bedrooms. One of these rooms is now called the Spirit Lounge in reference to Josefita. Both staff and guests have seen them in their 1920s glory only to disappear. Employees also saw a young man in period clothing sitting.
Have an Albuquerque ghost story of your own? Please share it in the comments below!