DAN CLARK AND HIS PARTNER, David Solem, purchased the nine-room Inn of the Turquoise Bear, in Santa Fe, in 2014. Clark takes seriously his stewardship of this onetime home of poet, essayist, and cultural bon vivant Witter Bynner (1881–1968). The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
To me, Witter Bynner was a Jay Gatsby type who wanted an estate where artistic VIPs could come for parties—called “Bynner’s bashes”—and stay, but not be in his personal space. About one-third of visitors come because of the history, which included notable guests like D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Igor Stravinsky, and Willa Cather. Robert Frost wrote a poem sitting on one of our rock walls!
Bynner also did all the gardening, often early in the morning because he suffered from insomnia. You’d be hard-pressed to find a lusher or larger hotel or inn garden in Santa Fe. The heirloom roses are ones that Bynner planted, as well as the lilacs.
During our inaugural open house, an elderly woman shared that she walked to school by the house and would chat with Bynner every day, despite being warned not to by her mother. She said he was kind and treated her as an adult. It brought her such joy to share that with us.
Bynner created this rambling adobe villa in the Pueblo Revival style in the 1920s from a core of rooms that date to the early 1800s. He expanded it by a good two-thirds, buying surrounding properties. He had a respect for authenticity and craftsmanship. Inn of the Turquoise Bear is now considered one of Santa Fe’s most important historical estates.
We sometimes get dinged because the bathrooms are small and we don’t have outlets everywhere or coffeemakers in the rooms. Have you ever tried to add electrical to thick adobe walls? Turquoise Bear wasn’t built to be a modern inn, though we do have modern amenities like Wi-Fi. We’re trying to keep the inn consistent with its origins, true to what Bynner’s vision was, and to the hospitality he provided his guests.
We put together a picture book with anecdotes so that, whoever you are, you come away enthralled that you’ve experienced something so iconically Santa Fe. The property celebrated its 25th anniversary as a bed-and-breakfast last year and will be in better shape when we’re gone, so it can continue for another 100 years.