The Luna Mansion is an iconic Los Lunas landmark
My family moved to Los Lunas, New Mexico in the summer of 1982. I was six years old and fascinated by the beautiful old mansion at the corner of Main Street and NM 314. Los Lunas had a population of about 3500 in the early 1980’s so a place like the Luna Mansion really stood out. At the time, it was an upscale steak and seafood restaurant. The kind of place that didn’t have prices on the menu because “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”.
My family ate at the Luna Mansion a few times over the years. We would go for special occasions and to impress family visiting from out of state. It was fancy and expensive and I was definitely not allowed to go wandering all over the place unattended, that came later.
History of the Luna Mansion
The Luna Mansion was built in 1880 by the Santa Fe Railroad as a gift (bribe?) to the Luna-Otero family for granting passage through their land. It is the only known Victorial, Southern Colonial structure constructed of adobe. In other words, it looks like a southern mansion that you would expect to see in Savannah but it’s actually an adobe house. In 1975 the Luna Mansion was officially added to the National Register Of Historic Places. Click here to see the photo and application that was submitted for the Mansion.
Old and haunted but not abandoned
It was also during the 1970’s when the Luna Mansion was renovated and transformed from a private residence into a restaurant. Coincidentally, it was around this time that the restaurant staff began reporting sightings and strange goings on. Doors open and close by themselves and the light switches seem to have a mind of their own. A rocking chair rocks of its own accord and apparently moves across the room if anyone dares to relocate it. Apparitions have been seen in the stairwell to the wine cellar and the list goes on.
Personally, I have not witnessed any of these things directly but my husband did claim to hear someone speaking Spanish once when we were there and he had gone upstairs by himself. As for myself, all I can report on is feeling really uneasy in the upstairs women’s bathroom. While I was on the property (alone) shooting my exterior images for this blog post, no matter where I stood it felt like someone was watching me through the windows of the house. Unfortunately, “feelings” don’t show up in photographs so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
The home of Josefita Manderfield Otero
The original owner of the Luna Mansion was a powerful political figure in New Mexico’s history. Acknowledged as being the architect of New Mexico’s state constitution, the Luna Mansion was originally built for Soloman Luna. In the early 1900’s Soloman deeded the home to his nephew, Don Eduardo Otero and his wife Josefita.
Josefita (Pepe) Otero is credited with redesigning parts of the house including the addition of columns to the front porch. It is her rocking chair that is purported to rock on its own and move about the room should anyone move it from its special place at the top of the stairs.
Today, the chair still sits at the top of the stairs along with two portraits of Josefita.
Exploring the inside of the Luna Mansion
When we first moved back to Los Lunas in 2017, Johnpaul and I used to enjoy visiting the Luna Mansion for an early dinner. We would arrive around 4:30 and literally be the only customers in the restaurant. This was fun because we got to sit by the big bay windows in the front dining room and watch the world go by. One time when we were enjoying being the only customers, the manager told me that I was welcome to “go exploring”. He said I could go wherever I want and take as many pictures as I want. So naturally that’s what I did. What a great opportunity to photograph this historic property without any other people mucking up my shots!
For Sale, Again
While the Luna Mansion is absolutely one of my favorite restaurants to visit in Los Lunas, it is currently closed and for sale. Over the years, I have seen the Luna Mansion change hands many times. In the year or so before the pandemic the business was in a sharp decline. I can only speculate as to why this might be but a limited menu, poor marketing and traffic problems inherent to its location would be at the top of my list.
Los Lunas suffers from a serious traffic problem that culminates to an impassable bottle neck at the intersection of Main Street and NM 314. This ongoing traffic jam makes the Luna Mansion practically inaccessible during the evening rush hour, which also coincides with their dinner service. The problem is bad enough that it makes going to Chili’s on the west side of I-25 seem like a pretty good option.