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. … 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. The building then sat empty for a decade and was subject to significant vandalism and decay. The Jesuits made a little money renting the building out as the set for the low budget horror movie The Evil in 1978.
In 1981, the castle was purchased by industrialist and philanthropist Armand Hammer for use as a United World College. In 1997, it was placed on the list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, along with landmarks like Ellis Island. In 2000 and 2001, the school invested over $12 million restoring the building, and it has won awards as one of the great historical restorations in the United States. 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.
– United World College Student Magazine –