The Maria Teresa Restaurant closed in 2004, only months before I arrived here. It had been an Albuquerque institution for years, a favorite place for special occasions and prom dates. The building has been vacant ever since, intriguing in its architecture and history, lonely in its location. It is surrounded by Little Anita's (a local chain restaurant), Rio Grande Blvd., and the large parking lot of Hotel Albuquerque.
It was recently purchased by the company that owns Hotel Albuquerque and will be turned into a high-end event and meeting center. It's on the National Register, so they pretty much have to leave the exterior structure of the building as it is.
The high wall does not do it any favors, although it screens the lovely courtyard and yard surrounding the building from the busy traffic noise.
I was fortunate to find these great photos on another website, taken when it was still a restaurant. Look at this great portal. I have very little trouble imagining what this hacienda must have looked like when it was a family home. A HUGE family home. It started with 12 rooms built around a central courtyard and was added to later on. It's now 10,000 square feet.
I did as much research on the web as I could to find out the history. It's pretty sketchy and it looks like there's a lot of misinformation out there, but here goes:
There are several dates associated with this house: 1783, about which there is practically nothing; and 1840. The National Historic Register says it was built in 1845, and I can believe that. I can also believe that the 1783 date was for a land grant by the King of Spain, as much of the land around here was. Several websites said it was built by Salvador Armijo in 1783, which appears to be wrong. I found more information on Salvador Armijo (1823-1879), who apparently was among the many merchants in the Armijo family. The Salvador Armijo House is also known as the Santiago Baca Homestead. Baca was Armijo's son-in-law and worked with him in his mercantile business in the late 1800's.
An interesting twist is that the Maria Teresa Restaurant was considered among the most haunted places in New Mexico. To see some lovely photos of the place when it was still open and read about their ghosts (some are really amusing), click here.