"The Luna Mansion"
© Copyright Timothy S. March
In 1692 Domingo de Luna came to New Mexico on a land grant from the King of Spain. A few years later, Don Pedro Otero came to Valencia County under similar circumstances. These two families grew, aquired fortunes in land and livestock, and became extremely powerful in politics and prominent in territorial society . The family heads became friends and business associates. The marriages of Solomon Luna to Adelaida Otero, and Manuel A. Otero to Eloisa Luna in the late 1800's united these two families into what became known as the Luna-Otero Dynasty.
In 1880 the Santa Fe Railroad wanted right-of-way through the Luna property. In return for this favor, and because the proposed railroad tracks went squarely through the existing Luna hacienda, the railroad agreed to build a new home to the specifications of Don Antonio Jose and his family. Legend has it that numerous trips through the South by the Luna family inspired the architectural design of the mansion. Whether or not this is true, the building is unique in that, while it is southern colonial in style, its basic construction material is adobe.
Because Don Antonio Jose died in 1881, the first family to occupy the mansion was his oldest son, Tranquilino. After Don Tranquilino's death in Washington while serving in the legislature, younger brother Solomon took the reins of the family. Although Solomon was probably the most famous of the Lunas, he was not very prolific. With no children in his family, control passed to his nephew, Eduardo Otero, in the early 1900's. It was during this time, specifically in the 1920's that the mansion truly became the outstanding building that now exists. During this period the solarium was constructed, the front portico was added, and the ironwork, which once surrounded about five times as much property as it now does, was erected. Responsible for these and other improvements was a talented and creative woman, Josefita Manderfield Otero, wife of Don Eduardo. Josefita, or Pepe as she is affectionately remembered, was a daughter of William R. Manderfield, founder of the Santa Fe New Mexican. This fine lady ruled the mansion with a gentle and loving hand and spent her days caring for her magnificent gardens and applying paint to canvas. There are those in this area who still remember and speak highly of her.
The words "Los Lunas" in spanish means, where the Lunas live. Before the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad, Los Lunas identified a geographic location of the families ranch headquarters and home. Growth as a town, and bustling bedroom community to Albuquerque that it is today, began after the railroad arrived.
The Luna-Otero Mansion is preserved today as a landmark in Valencia County, and was put to use to serve the public as a fine restaurant, and to display an important part of New Mexico history.