Saturday, March 22, 2014

Haunted New Mexico: St. Vincent Hospital, Part l

At the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Palace Museum in Santa Fe sits a building that is one of New Mexico’s most haunted.

St. Vincent Hospital
This site has been reincarnated as various hospitals since 1865. The present-day building was built in 1977 to house St. Vincent Hospital, which served Santa Fe and northern New Mexico until 1983. 

This facility gained a reputation as being haunted.

The building’s basement and third floor are where most of the ghostly activity occurs.

One legend involves a hospital worker who one night was riding on one of the elevators. He was taken to this lower floor even though he had pressed the 3rd-floor button. 

Once in the basement, he tried to close the elevator doors, but despite pressing every button on the panel, they would not close--even after several minutes passed.

Frustrated, he finally just stepped out into the basement at which point the doors closed, and the elevator went back up. He usually avoided this part of the building because he had heard the rumors. 

In the darkness, he debated whether to wait for the elevator or try to find the stairs when he felt something behind him.

He looked around and didn’t see anything, so he decided to wait for the elevator. But the feeling of being watched overtook him, and he started to search for the stairs. 

He now saw a shadow along the wall that seemed to be following him. He panicked and ran. He tripped over a large packing crate, bumped his head and was knocked out cold.

This basement is large and has many rooms and hallways that even during the day are dark and gloomy.

The above is a local story that is told to inspire “Legend Trippers” to explore the building’s basement. I have heard of more than one incident where teens broke in a basement window to do just this.

Some believe the building is haunted because of what is stored in crates in one hallway in the basement. The St. Vincent is located next to the New Mexico State Museum offices, and for years they stored boxes containing Native American artifacts in this basement.

These items include pottery, stone tools, and grinding stones, etc. all taken from burial sites. 

One rumor often mentioned is that some of these crates even contain human bones. Many believe these rooms are haunted by the spirits of restless Native Americans.

Several nurses, nurse’s aides, and many other hospital staff over the years have encountered strange and ghostly activity in this building. Reliable witnesses tell the following three stories, so they are considered true.

The Game of Chase *

During the time the building was still used as a hospital, one nurse, Maryclare Henebry, worked nights on the 3rd floor in the adult psychiatric unit. This floor had both secured and unsecured areas.

It was 2:00 a.m., and Henebry was unlocking the heavy double doors to make her hourly round. She felt a presence standing next to her, so she turned. 

A Hispanic man quickly drew his hand back--he had been about to tap her shoulder.

At first, Henebry thought he was a patient, then she realized she had never seen him before. She noted his old style clothing:

“He was wearing dark pants that were crudely stitched and made of heavy fabric. His white shirt was buttoned at the neck and had a wide old-fashioned collar. He wore black leather boots.”

Henebry, who is 5’3” inches in height, was surprised to see that he was much shorter. Henebry asked him who he was, but he did not respond, he instead just stared at her.

To her amazement, she saw him start to disappear where he stood. His head and feet slowly faded at the same time--then his midsection disappeared as well.

Herebry understandably shaken up had trouble relocking the door.

An hour later, at 3:00 a.m., she hesitated when it was time to do her rounds again. She approached the heavy doors and looked through a window down the hall into the secure unit.

To her surprise, she spotted the short Hispanic man again as he rounded a corner out of her view. She then saw a female figure run passed where she stood. This female was taller than the man, wore a white gown, and had long flowing hair.

She couldn’t make out her features for she wore a mantilla or veil over her face. As she passed, Herebry noted she had no feet. Instead, she appeared to be floating three inches above the floor.

Before Herebry could react, the Hispanic man rushed by her, apparently chasing the female spirit as she floated down the hall.

Herebry wondered why this man was chasing the woman, was it a game, or was it something more deadly. She never found out, and she never saw these two apparitions again.

In Part ll of this post, I share two more true witness accounts. The first is about a wall covered in blood in the basement, witnessed by two nurses, and the second is about a nurse who hears a baby crying on the third floor during the holidays.

* Excerpts taken from New Mexico Ghost Stories, by Antonio Garcez

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