The Inn on the Alameda and Santa Fe Builders Supply Company ( Sanbusco ), an 1882 builders supply company at the northern terminus of the AT&SF Railyard, are two unlikely twins. Certainly not identical twins, but both properties were created from old structures with new faces and born in the last days of the era of the Historic Tax Credit, at the time the key driver in American preservation projects. In the summer of 1986, the Schepps family opened both properties which were to become cornerstones of the changing lodging and retail markets of Santa Fe.
It is fun to remember the 1980’s because they brought so much change to town. Everyone agrees that the 1981 Esquire cover article on Santa Fe triggered a shift in her national and even international recognition. The cover showed a young hip New Yorker heading out of town in a convertible loaded with skis, backpacks and clothes, headed to Santa Fe. What an amazing time was to follow, and I was fortunate to be involved with much of it. Sanbusco was a monumental renovation that was the first major project done in the Railyard area since the installation of the tracks themselves and the building of the depots in the 1880’s.
One of the earliest events hosted at Sanbusco was the tiny Santa Fe Wine and Chili Fiesta’s first season. The festival has grown to be a 5 day event, recognized across the country by wine lovers, wineries, vintners, chefs and people that just love drinking wine and eating food. Now it takes the Opera’s vast property to accommodate this event . This is a good example of that saying “ from tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.” We are proud that our company was there at the very beginning.
Another very important contribution to our town was our support and sponsorship in our parking lot of the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. Sanbusco served as host for 12 years in the the 1980’s, helping transition the Market from the small parking lot of Saint Anne Parish to its present day facility in the Railyard. The Farmer’s Market is now recognized as one of the country’s best, and always a great place to shop for foods, crafts, organic produce and just plain old people watching. No dogs allowed inside, but just bring a leash and enjoy the outdoor portions of the market. Small acorns to mighty oaks, again.
The 1980’s also saw a second major addition to the Railyard area and that was the beautifully designed Hotel Santa Fe. Besides being the first all-suites hotel within the downtown, the hotel was a unique partnership between a group of developers and investors owning 49%, and the Picuris Pueblo from Penasco, New Mexico who were the 51% partners. This project was funded by a Bureau of Indian Affairs guaranteed loan, which was just part of what the Picuris brought to the partnership. The hotel is blessed with their energy, art and spirit that you feel from your first glimpse of the property. I was the general managing partner until the multi-talented Paul Margetson took over 20 years ago. This was probably my most challenging and unique experience as a developer: an affair involving a great architectural team, Richard Yates and Jerry Exline, a Native American Tribe, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a fine group of respected businessmen and women.
American Clay was also established in the 1980’s, and I was fortunate to be involved in that company as well. It was one of the first companies using non-off gassing materials that were made from the finest clays. This interior plaster, though locally made, delivered an authenic Italian plaster finish and glow to the walls it adorned. This business continues to grow as people become more and more informed of the toxic aspects of so many building materials.
So the 1980’s saw the birth of many new projects, not the least of which was the lodging industry’s first new hotels with the services and amenities that would be needed to take the town into the 1990’s. And again, it was my luck and pleasure to be at the heart of all this change. And the Inn on the Alameda was born right in the middle of the 80’s along side all of these exciting ventures. She has been growing every day since then, adding a total of 36 more rooms and suites, an outdoor star-lit patio-bar which grew into the Agoyo Lounge, a fine bar and restaurant for our guests and neighbors, a courtesy car, and a staff that has grown in all areas of hospitality, service, friendliness and warmth…the key ingredients to make a guest feel right at home which has always been our goal.
-Joe Schepps with assistance from Mike Schepps