A 90,000 square foot, 400 room Queen Anne-style castle building erected in rural Montezuma, New Mexico in 1886. The current castle is actually the third on the site, the first two (dating to 1881 and 1885) were the first buildings in New Mexico to have electric lighting, and they both burned down.
The castle was originally constructed by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad as a luxury hotel, capitalizing on the natural hot springs on the site. These were widely thought to ease the suffering of people with tuberculosis. The nearby Gallinas Creek also provided excellent trout fishing. Guests included Theodore Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Jesse James, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
The castle was designed and built by the great Chicago architects Burnham and Root. It operated as a hotel until 1903. It was then briefly owned by the YMCA, then operated as a Baptist college from 1922 until 1930. The Southern Baptist Church sold it to the Catholic Church in 1937, and it was operated as a seminary for Mexican Jesuits until 1972. In 1981, it was purchased by industrialist and philanthropist Armand Hammer for use as a United World College. In 2000 and 2001, the current management of the school invested over $10 million restoring the building, and it has won many awards as one of the great historical restorations in the United States. It has been placed on the list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, along with landmarks like Ellis Island. It is also the first historic property west of the Mississippi to be designated one of “America’s Treasures” by the White House Millennium Council.