THE TAOS INN'S LOBBY comes by its nickname—“the living room of Taos”—naturally. More than a century ago, it was an open-air plaza with a town well that served as a gathering place. Today that locale is a different kind of watering hole: the Adobe Bar, where the margaritas and conversation flow around a fountain that stands where the well once did.
There was a lot to gossip about in the inn’s early days, not the least of which was one of Taos’s most notorious stories: The headless body of entrepreneur Arthur Manby was discovered in his hacienda next door to the inn in 1929. (That building is now the Taos Center for the Arts.)
Dr. Thomas Paul Martin was Manby’s neighbor. Doc Martin trooped all over northern New Mexico tending to ailments. However, he preferred that Taoseños come to him to deliver their babies, which they did in a private alcove in what is now Doc Martin’s Restaurant.
The home played a role in Taos history. Doc’s wife, Helen, a noteworthy batik artist, was the sister-in-law of Bert Phillips. It’s an oft-repeated tale that Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein founded the Taos Society of Artists in the Martins’ dining room in 1915.
After her husband’s death, Helen entered the hospitality business with José Abelino Barela. She opened her inn in 1934 with three buildings. Over the years, the inn took over additional structures. Barela is said to be responsible for a second-story addition, the enclosed patio, and a stained-glass cupola.
“This is still a place where everybody knows everybody,” says Operations Manager Julie Sena. “It’s a local hangout, and guests bond with locals over their shared love of Taos.”