LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) - Since 1898, the grand La Castaneda Hotel has stood out in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Harvey Hotel was built by famous entrepreneur Fred Harvey, and it sat vacant for 70 years.
"New Mexico is like the epicenter of Fred Harvey world. Harvey ran all the hotels and restaurants for the Santa Fe Railway, he was the first national hotel chain," said Allan Affeldt.
It was once bustling with the well-known Harvey girls, but it's now full of workers. Affeldt and his wife purchased the property in 2014; they began restoration last year.
"This room, of course, is the Owl, and at night that lights up and it's so mysterious and beautiful," said Affeldt as he entered one of the 20 rooms.
So far, a handful of the rooms are done, each centering around a different animal.
By the end of the week, 13 rooms will be ready to be booked before the hotel completely opens. It's a place where guests will find a treasure trove of antiques.
Monday, the bar opened its doors for the first time.
"That's an original mural that was covered under many layers of plaster... nobody even knew it was there," said Affeldt as he pointed above the bar.
La Castaneda was the first Harvey Hotel and restaurant built along train tracks.
"It was like a quick service space for people to come in and grab a bite and get back on the train," said Sean Sinclair.
Sinclair is the owner and operator of Bar Castaneda, along with the restaurant which will open in June.
"We're featuring a new take on Fred Harvey cuisine," said Sinclair.
With more than $5 million put into the restoration efforts, Affeldt said it's a labor of love.
"It's only by saving these things that people learn that history. If you don't know the history then these things will be lost," he said.