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Jemez Springs

From Jemez Thunder, March 01, 1995

By Susan Burritt

In the past two and a half years, the Servants of the Paraclete, located in Jemez Springs, just north of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood and the Bodhi Mandala Zen Center, have become nationally known because of sex offense claims and litigation that has been brought against the Paraclete, and some of the men who have resided at the facility in Jemez. The Very Reverend Liam Hoare, executive director of the facility, says the unwanted publicity has caused turmoil to the extent that the center is changing its scope and direction.

The buildings which front on Highway 4 north of Jemez Springs are part of the 2,600 acres owned by the Servants of the Paraclete. Photo by Elise MacKinnon/Jemez Thunder

The buildings which front on Highway 4 north of Jemez Springs are part of the 2,600 acres owned by the Servants of the Paraclete. Photo by Elsie MacKinnon/Jemez Thunder

“The Jemez Program which has existed in the Jemez Valley since 1982 is in the process of being phased out for the following reasons: first, the unsought for notoriety of being stigmatized as the pedophile center for the Roman Catholic clergy throughout the world. Second, the recent series of litigations which the Servants have endured over the past two years has left the congregation and staff exhausted, both financially and emotionally, ” Father Liam said. All of the residents presently at the program will leave. “They will be sent to similar facilities elsewhere in the United States,” he said.

The termination of this program will be complete by the end of March. “The Villa Louis Martin will become a long-term residential center for priests and brothers who have been in other treatment centers, but who need a modified, ongoing supportive community where they will continue to receive pastoral and professional assistance,” Father Liam said. Many of the new residents will be older, but must be in good physical condition because of the distance to any comprehensive medical facility, he said.

Because this group of residents will be more capable of doing for themselves, the professional contractual staff, as well as the support staff will be reduced by as much as 25%. “We call it therapeutic chores, and there won’t be the same demand for staffing as there was in the intensive program,” he said. The staffing reductions would also be complete by the end of March.

This is not little first time the center has changed its mission. It was originally purchased by Father Gerald Fitzgerald in 1947, and consisted of an old stone and adobe inn, known originally as Esperanza, which means “hope.” “Paraclete” means advocate, sponsor, intercessor, comforter or sanctifier. There were approximately 12 rooms at the inn.

Joe Garcia, Sr., was hired to work on remodeling and maintenance, and was the only outside help. He worked for the Paraclete for 36 years, until 1980. Now 71, Garcia still lives in Jemez Springs. “Whatever needed to he done, l did it, carpentry, plumbing, electric. I did everything,” Garcia said.

There are approximately 2600 acres which belong to the Servants of the Paraclete, much of which is in the mountains behind the housing. Garcia said the Servants once owned much more property. “Anything that was not privately owned, the Paraclete had it. Their north boundary was just past Soda Dam, and the south boundary was a little south of where the new credit union is. They owned everything behind Mooney Blvd., the Bodhi, the property where the Handmaids are, and the property where the Canyon Quarters is.“

The park in the Village of Jemez Springs is named for Father Fitzgerald. “He donated the property that the village owns when the village became incorporated,” said Garcia.

The Paraclete also own the site known as Lourdes, which is across the highway and up the road. It sits on 26 acres, and has a rich history. It changed hands several times, but in the ’20’s and ’30’s it was owned by a family from the east. “Those folks were from Chicago. They used to run horses there, and have a lot of gambling. I heard it could get pretty rough, sometimes,” said Garcia.

‘‘It was called the Lazy Ray Ranch back then, and wealthy people from all over the country would come. Back then, it was just a dirt road to come up here, so I guess once they were here, they probably stayed all summer, just lazing around,” he said. It is rumored that Al Capone sometimes stayed at the Lazy Ray.

An old road can be seen going up behind the main buildings. Although it is now impassable, at one time 4-wheel drive automobiles could drive back into the mountains. If they provided access, then they could build back there at some time,” Garcia said. He said there is still an aluminum cross up high in the hills by the road.

The facility began with Father Fitzgerald’s dream: a home for troubled priests. Father Liam said Father Fitzgerald’s goal was to create a safe place, “for the sole purpose of assisting Catholic priests and brothers who were wounded in the battle of life, experiencing all of the human problems that any human being can experience, personally or vocationally.”

Father Fitzgerald's goal was to build a safe haven for troubled priests and brothers. Photo by Elise MacKinnon/Jemez Thunder

Father Fitzgerald’s goal was to build a safe haven for troubled priests and brothers. Photo by Elsie MacKinnon/Jemez Thunder

Father Liam speaks with some expertise, as he spent several years in the company of Father Fitzgerald, and acted as his interpreter in Rome. “He was at pioneer. This type of facility was the first of its kind in the Church, and the first in the United States,” said Hoare.

Over time, the complex grew. The remodeled inn was renamed Via Coeli, or Way to Heaven. Additional buildings were constructed. Father Liam described the organization at that time as, “An open-ended monastic community. The priests and brothers did everything. There was virtually no outside help. It was self sufficient and self-sustaining. There was only one person hired as outside help, Joe Garcia.”

Garcia said at one time the center operated a medical clinic for both the residents and the community. “The Sisters at the Handmaids used to cook and clean and were professional nurses. They ran the clinic until the regulations for handling medications got really complicated,” he said.

More buildings and more land were gradually added. Villa Louis Martin can house up to 23 persons, the conference center has a capacity of 24. Lourdes is the home of the Servants of the Paraclete, which administers the center, and has a capacity of 12.

Over the years the center has continued to change. Through 1977, Father Liam said, “It was a retreat entirely spiritual in nature and scope. In the 60s and 70s it was seen that what was being done was warehousing these people who did not fit in anywhere else. It was a safe, non-judgmental place to live. It did not pretend to be professional in any way,” he said.

This too began to change. Father Michael Foley, who directed the Servants of the Paraclete after Father Fitzgerald, sent people to school to obtain professional accreditation in psychology, psychiatry, social work and spiritual direction. Father Liam, who has been the executive director of the Paraclete for eight years, is a psychologist and certified addictions counselor, as well as a licensed psychotherapist. Their professional staff consists of several consulting physicians and professionals, including clinical psychologists, group and individual therapists, cardiovascular, and stress management professionals.

“We provided a family-like atmosphere where men suffering from depression, personality disorders, adjustment disorders, vocational crisis, and stress disorders could come, and with the sunshine of nature, charity and the Eucharist (Holy Communion), could become well again.”

"We need to rest and want to demonstrate good will and care for people in the Jemez Community." Photo by Elise MacKinnon/Jemez Thunder

“We need to rest and want to demonstrate good will and care for people in the Jemez Community.” Photo by Elsie MacKinnon/Jemez Thunder

Before those changes were complete. Father Liam likened the situation to a combat zone, where the tools for treating the residents were not adequate, but there was no place else for these men to go. “We were like the M.A.S.H. unit of the Roman Catholic Church. We did not always know what the men‘s problems were until they arrived. Of course, we had to remove the psychotic ones. You had to take care of yourself. It wasn’t a prison, and some men had cars.”

At one time. the primary residents were alcoholics, and the facility was referred to as “The Center for Boozy Priests.” Father Liam said. “They were like family. Sometimes. especially during the holidays, one or more would go out and tie one on. We would take care of them like you would your aunt or uncle. They are human.”

Since 1977, however, the Jemez Program has operated on a professional level, with guidelines for treatment, and a comprehensive after care program, which followed the progress of all who had attended the center. Especially successful, said Father Liam, was the cardiovascular program, where residents regained their health walking the grounds and Highway 4, sometimes losing as much as 40 pounds.

Concerning the future of the Servants of the Paraclete, Father Liam said, “It would be imprudent to go back to the Jemez Program model. We need to rest, and want to demonstrate good will and care for the people who live in the Jemez community by modifying the programs and going in new directions.”

He said one or the new directions the Servants want to explore is the possibility of turning the Foundation House into conference center open to all sorts of special interest groups. “A group, such as Intel, or one of the hospitals, or other service-oriented agencies could come to use the conference center, and we would provide their meals and rooms.” he said. With the increased use of this facility, he said he hoped staffing could once be increased.

Father Liam expressed hope that the new purpose of the center will be successful, and that the intent to provide for conferences will help the community economically. “We hated to let any of our staff go. I know what that means to a community of this size,” he said.

By Nancy Metnik, Postmaster, from Jemez Thunder, December 01, 1997

After many months of seeing activity at the new Jemez Springs Post Office and of wondering when it would be occupied – it has happened!

On Monday, Nov. 24, the move began with the able crew from the U.S. Postal Service maintenance department (Paul, Terry and Ed) transferring non-critical equipment from the old office to the new.

THE LOADOUT - On Nov. 25, Edna Pety and Donna Lea work their last day in the old post office at 17375 Highway 4. Photo by Robert Borden/Jemez Thunder

THE LOADOUT – On Nov. 25, Edna Pety and Donna Lea work their last day in the old post office at 17375 Highway 4. Photo by Robert Borden/Jemez Thunder

On Tuesday, most other equipment was transferred to the new building after mail was sorted at the old. Clerk Donna Lea remained at the old office to sell stamps, money orders, etc., while the rest of the crew went to the new office to arrange furniture and put away “stuff.”

NEW POST OFFICE - Postal Service employees move equipment into the new post office on Nov. 25. The new office, located just south of the credit union, opened for business on Nov. 26.

NEW POST OFFICE – Postal Service employees move equipment into the new post office on Nov. 25. The new office, located just south of the credit union, opened for business on Nov. 26. Photo by Robert Borden/Jemez Thunder

On Wednesday the 26th, the new post office opened with full window service, mail delivery, mail pickup, and a special blue door where folks picked up keys for the new boxes.

All box numbers at the new post office will remain the same. Good news, eh? There are many more boxes that are now available for rent. We no longer need a waiting list. Just come in and we can rent you a P.O. box immediately.

Post office hours will remain the same. The mail now leaves Jemez Springs at 4:10 p.m. (instead of 1 p.m. in the old days), so you have until 4 p.m. to bring mail to the counter and it will go out that day.

When you come in to pick up your new keys, you must bring in your old keys, as they will be recycled along with the old P.O. boxes.

The box lobby will be open 24 hours a day for mail pickup, just as before. A new item will be the parcel lockers by the front door. We thought this would be a real convenience for P.O. box customers who cannot always come in during business hours. If you find a key in your box, look at the number on it and go to the corresponding parcel locker. You can now get your packages at any time.

Soon we will be having a customer appreciation day/open house to celebrate our new office and our great customers! We will be letting you know when this will be, most likely Dec. 19 or 20.

Please feel free to call us with questions or concerns at 829-3917.



Hotel Clay 1922. Photographer unknown.

The Clay Hotel, also known as the Esperanza Hotel or Esperanza Ranch, was demolished when Via Coeli was built across from what is now Jemez Historic Site. According to information shared by Amie Adams Green, the hotel was under construction starting in 1921, and hot water came directly from the hot springs. Patricia Bailey provided the following items from the Albuquerque Journal, which have been transcribed for greater legibility.



From the Albuquerque Journal, January 24, 1922


“Construction on the new Clay Hotel in Jemez Springs is progressing rapidly. It is expected that the building will be completed for use by May, according to Linus Shields, of Jemez, who was in the city yesterday. The new hotel will contain fifty guest rooms and will be modern in every respect with water piped firect from a mountain spring. The road between Albuquerque and Jemez is in excelling condition, said Mr. Shields, who made the trip down yesterday in three hours.”



From the Albuquerque Journal, April 16, 1922


“Considering the season and the weather, there has been an unusual influx of visitors during the past two weeks due in a great measure in an improvement in the road, which improvements, although not yet complete, enable the trip to  be made in three and a half hours. The worst stretch is within the town of Bernalillo and approaches. The work on the canyon road progresses slowly but steadily and is due to the efforts of a few public-spirited citizens who realize the necessity of encouraging tourists and who are not afraid to give both time and money.

“There has been a decided revival of the boom spirit, but not by boom methods, the revival being not on paper but substantial and visible.

“La Esperanza, better known and probably always will be known as ‘Clay’s hotel,’ due to the personality of Mr. and Mrs. Clay, will be ready for business about May 20, and while the finishing touches are still being made, they take care of week-end parties comfortably, and even if the visitors do have to put up with some minor discomforts, they are always sure of an old-fashioned ‘Clay,’ dinner. Its reputation never fades.

“Located immediately adjoining the old church, built in 1619, now the property of the Archaeological Society, both the Clay hotel and Mrs. J. W. Miller will be prepared to accommodate all visitors, both comfortably and with exceptional cuisine.”


WANTED–A good cook; woman preferred. Also a man who understands the care of the bath house. Address Chas H. Clay, Hotel Clay, Jemez Springs, N.M.




A traditional acequia runs through the Village of Jemez Springs. Photo by Judith Isaacs, 2015.

Following practices brought from Spain and Mexico, early farmers irrigated through the use of a community ditch. Under New Mexico’s complicated and controversial water rights laws, the first people on the land are awarded rights to the water (in this case the Jemez River) in perpetuity based on when they arrived. The Jemez Springs acequia system has a priority date of 1865; in this area, only Jemez Pueblo has a prior right. A portion of the original ditch for Jemez Springs, much renovated over the centuries but still in use, can be seen in the heart of the village near the Jemez Stage Stop Café and other segments are in use throughout the village. It is governed in the traditional way by a ditch boss, or major domo, who determines who gets water when. All those using the acequia, the parcipientes, are expected to respect the rules and help to maintain the ditch.

Historic acequia runs through Casa Blanca property in Jemez Springs. Photo by Roger Sweet.

Visitors on the trail to the ruins of San Jose de Guisewa at Jemez State Monument in 2010. Photo by Judith Isaacs

Visitors on the trail to the ruins of San Jose de Guisewa at Jemez Historic Site (formerly Jemez State Monument) in 2010. Photo by Judith Isaacs

The first non-Indian building at the present-day site of Jemez Springs was the mission of San José de los Guisewa, located just north of the Village Plaza. The first mission was established in 1598 and then abandoned the next year. The Spanish returned to build a church in 1620-21 at the site of a large pueblo named Guisewa, which was one of many constructed of stone throughout the canyon and on the mesa tops. The mission consisted of a church and convento (priests’ quarters), now the ruins we see today at  Jemez Historic Site, formerly known as Jemez State Monument. This mission was abandoned in 1630 and remained unoccupied for more than 200 years.


Jemez Historic Site, 1877. Photo by John K. Hillers. In public domain.



Another mercantile store, built in 1931 by Swedish immigrants, became a trading post, delicatessen, a café and gas station; it changed hands a number of times and today is the Jemez Stage Stop Cafe. The original store sold hay and wheat, as well as groceries and dry goods. Locals still refer to it as “the Merc” or “the Deli” because of its history as a mercantile store with a deli case. The wooden flooring, door, and some of the windows are from the original building.


pre-DEli 2

Probably when this was a mercantile. Date unknown. Photographer unknown.

Casa Blanca Guest House 2017. Photo by Roger Sweet.


Like all the old structures in the Village, Casa Blanca Guest House is constructed of rock and mud, as well as the adobes traditionally associated with New Mexico. Originally a stable, then a two-room house, the five-room house was completely restored as a guest house when Roger and Linda Sweet purchased it. In the early 20th century, the house was known locally as “Buckingham Palace,” so called because a British family lived there. The original outhouse still stands in the midst of beautiful gardens terraced down to the river behind the house, and the original well house has been converted into a compact guest cottage.


Momaday house in Jemez Springs 2015. Photo by Brandi Daw.


The Momaday house was built in the 1930s and served as a general store, post office and rectory for Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church. Its historical significance comes from that fact the from 1946-2011 it was occupied first by Al and Natachee Scott Momaday and later by their son N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer-prize winning author, poet, and artist. In an article of unknown origin found in library files, he wrote this about the house:

My parents’ home at Jemez Springs is a great old stone structure of two stories, massive fireplaces, and cool, dark corridors. It has, in its conformation of oak timbers, native stone, and adobe, the character of a castle, or of a haunted parsonage on the Yorkshire moors. It is, in fact, called Stonehenge, and it is aptly named, for there is a kind of Druidic mystery to it; it is informed with something like timelessness. . . . Stonehenge is filled with a rich and varied treasure, the possessions that have defined my parents’ long tenure in the Southwest: baskets and rugs, silver and beadwork, woodcarvings and leathercraft, ancient pottery and innumerable paintings. The heads of wild animals, buffalo and deer, hang from the walls . . . It is a veritable museum of art, archaeology and natural history.

The Momaday house has since been sold and no longer is owned by the family.


Mountain Views Gifts & Decor, 2015. Photo by Judith Isaacs.



Photographer unknown. From Abousleman collection.

After serving as a dance hall and warehouse, the building just south of the Presbyterian Church became a café that changed hands several times; two of its names were the Palace Cafe and the Chili Bowl. It then operated for years as a widely-known destination: The Laughing Lizard, owned and operated by Elsie MacKinnon. It was a much beloved community gathering place; Thursday nights were local nights. When Elsie retired, the village turned out for a wake in the Lizard’s honor. Today the building is occupied by a gift shop.

Laughing Lizard Cafe 2010. Photo by Judith Isaacs.