Now used as a conference center and B&B, arts patroness Mabel Dodge Luhan’s home (240 Morada La., 575/751-9686, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily, free) is open to curious visitors as well as overnight guests. Knock at the main building first; the caretaker will give you information for a self-guided tour.
Bordering the Taos Reservation, the house was built to her specifications starting in 1918, a year after she had moved to New Mexico to be with her third husband (she was Mabel Dodge Sterne at that point) and then divorced him.
This intrepid woman, who shaped Taos’s arts culture for decades to come, also exercised a firm hand when designing her own place. Alongside a small original structure—a low row of adobe rooms that were already a century old at that point—she added a three-story main building, topped with a huge sunroom open on three sides.
This, and the similarly glass-enclosed bathroom on the second floor, seemed a bit scandalous to her neighbors, the pueblo residents. One of them, however, didn’t seem to mind—Tony Luhan, the foreman of the construction project, became her next husband.
But Mabel’s custom love nest brought out some latent prurience even in D. H. Lawrence, who objected to the curtainless bathroom windows. To soothe his sensibilities, if not Mabel’s, he painted colorful swirls directly on the glass; you can still see them today.
Other parts of the house did not fare so well. After Mabel’s death in 1962, subsequent residents did some serious damage. Dennis Hopper, for instance, reputedly was in the habit of riding his motorcycle across the roof of the string of guest rooms.
Fittingly, the only remaining original furniture, in the second-floor bedroom, is Mabel’s sturdy pine bed—perhaps simply because its Taos-style spiral posts made it too big and heavy to move. Downstairs is a cozy reading wing as well as a vast dining room, over which portraits of Mabel and Tony preside.