Of all the tragic love stories, the story of love cut down too early is perhaps the most tragic. The beautiful Double Eagle Restaurant in Mesilla, New Mexico is haunted by a devoted couple who, being denied a relationship in life, carry on happily together in death.
The building was originally built in 1849 as a residence for the influential Maes family. Señora Maes, the matriarch of the family, ruled the household with an iron fist, always on the lookout for ways to promote her family’s influence. She had bright hopes for her oldest son, Armando. Armando was just a teenager when he fell in love with a young maid in the household, Inez, and she with him. The two met clandestinely inside and outside the house as often as they could.
One day, Señora Maes returned from an outing and sought out her son. When she found him in his bedroom, he was neither alone nor sleeping; the two young lovers were caught in the act. Outraged that her son could lower himself to woo a common maid, and further outraged that the same common maid could have the gall to use her indecent wiles on her son, the mother grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed the girl. As she drew back for a second blow, her son threw himself in front of his lover and took the blade instead. (A variation of the story suggests that Armando actually tore the scissors out of his mother’s hands and stabbed himself, once he saw that Inez had received a fatal blow.) Either way, both teens were mortally wounded. Inez died almost instantly, while Armando lingered for a few painful days before joining her. The restaurant has the ghost story on its website, and they state that legend has it Señora Maes never spoke another word after that day.
I originally read this ghost story back in 1990 in Arthur Myers’ Ghostly Gazetteer, and the story was well established even back then. Some of the many activities attributed to the young lovers include the heavy front door opening by itself in full view of witnesses, cold spots, candles that won’t stay lit, the sound of pots crashing when nothing is out of place, the rearranging of furniture and paintings, and gliding apparitions, to name just a few. One former manager mockingly poured a glass of wine for himself and one for the ghost, toasted the spirit (with the spirit), drank his glass and locked up for the night. When the manager returned in the morning to unlock the building and disarm the alarm, he found the second glass of wine, which he had left on the table full, drained. Allegedly the manager tendered his resignation that same day, but was instead merely reassigned to a different, un-haunted restaurant owned by the same company.
Disembodied female voices heard chatting or calling employees by name have been reported frequently. The apparition of a female in a white blouse and dark skirt has been reported both floating through a room and spotted in a mirror, when no corresponding figure was present in the room.
Armando’s former bedroom, now known as the Carlota Room, has a history of issues with photography. Pictures taken in the room are often blurry and out of focus. Polaroids, in the days when such things were popular, often came out blank in the room. The pièce de résistance of the photographic evidence, which was presented in the Ghostly Gazetteer is a group photo of some diners posing during their meal at the historic restaurant, with a filmy figure standing, arms crossed, next to one of the men seated at the table.
This tale of budding love snipped before it had a chance to properly blossom has affected many people over the years, even inspiring a ballad, written by Coloradan, Pat Mendoza and choreographed by a dance company in Denver. Hopefully, in their eternal romance beyond the veil, Inez and her Armando have found their happiness.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Inez and Armando!
For further information on this atmospheric restaurant, please visit their website: http://www.double-eagle-mesilla.com/.