Built in 1882, Santa Fe’s La Posada Hotel is a historic landmark with a haunted reputation. Legend has it a heartbroken woman haunts the property that was once her home, grieving for the baby she lost. Curiously, the tales began decades after the woman’s death. Are the stories true or are they merely the stuff of legends?
Though now a high-end resort and spa, La Posada was originally home to the wealthy Staab family. Rags-to-riches immigrant Abraham Staab built the three-story home for his wife, Julia (above), and the couple’s several children. The home, which included a third-story ballroom, was the site of several elegant social gatherings and the family lived there for many years.
Julia and Abraham had seven living children, but after a eighth died in infancy, Julia reportedly fell into a deep depression. She withdrew from society and rarely left her room. Legend has it Julia’s hair turned completely white overnight. Legend also has it that Abraham abused Julia and once chained her to a radiator. However, there is no evidence to support such tales. After an extended illness, Julia died in her home in 1896.
After Abraham’s death in 1913, the mansion was eventually sold out of the family. In the 1930s, new owners purchased the home and surrounding property, transforming it into a Pueblo Revival-style resort. Today, La Posada is corporately owned.
Over 80 years after Julia’s death, people began seeing her ghost. The first recorded tale came in 1979 when a maid spotted a transparent woman standing near a fireplace. The mysterious woman was wearing a black Victorian dress and soon faded away. Shortly after that, a security guard spotted the eerie figure wandering down a hallway. A hotel manager also encountered the apparition.
Odd events followed the sightings and reportedly continue to this day. One night at the bar, a series glasses of inexplicably crashed to the floor. Gas fireplaces turned on and off. Keys moved. Bathtub faucets flowed in the middle of the night. A woman’s voice called from empty rooms, “I’m in here.” Julia’s old room, now called Suite 100, is said to be particularly active with dancing orbs, disembodied reflections, and a toilet with a mind of its own.
In American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest, Julia’s great-great granddaughter, Hannah Nordhaus, chronicles her quest to learn the truth about Julia’s life and death. Hannah stayed in Julia’s old room and awoke to a strange cluster of blinking lights. Another guest allegedly saw similar lights that evening, though in a different room.
Julia’s spirit is also the subject of many ghost tours, and her story has appeared on the TV shows Unsolved Mysteries and Weird Travels.
Do you think Julia Staab truly haunts her old home? Or are the stories nothing more than local legends?