Charles Bottger was born in New York City and his family owned a market in Rutherford, New Jersey. He arrived in Albuquerque around 1893 and worked for Tom Post, who owned the Sunnyside Tavern. The tavern was located across the street on land which is now the Plaza Vieja parking lot. After the death of Tom Post, Charles Bottger married Mr. Post’s stepdaughter, Miguela, and acquired the Bottger property. In approximately 1909, the original hacienda was demolished to make way for the new Bottger Mansion in 1912.
A highly innovative man, Charles Bottger wanted his new home to contain the most modern conveniences. Designed by local architect Edward Buxton Cristy in the American Foursquare style popular when New Mexico was still a U.S. territory, the house was the first residence in Old Town Albuquerque to have gas lighting and the original gas pipes are still located inside the ceilings. There were speaking tubes to all the rooms, pressed-tin ceilings in the three main rooms, and a dumbwaiter to the upper floor. The Bottger Mansion is one of few homes in Albuquerque to have a basement. There is only one fireplace in the entire Mansion, located in the living room. Both the coal-fired central heater and the coal cellar were located in the basement. When it was built, the Bottger Mansion was called the “Pride of Old Town.” In the mid-1930s, a Bottger grandson, George Gallegos, painted a mural of New Mexico mountains around the upper wall of the Cristy room. Charles Bottger owned one of the first automobiles in Albuquerque.
Charles Bottger died in 1914. As the Bottger family fortunes declined, Miguela began to take in boarders for additional income. In the 1940s, the FBI’s most wanted criminal, Machine Gun Kelly, was being hunted by lawmen everywhere. Kelly, his girlfriend, and his gang were headed back to Memphis from California and checked into the Bottger under assumed names. They had dyed their hair and purchased new clothes to help conceal their identities. After several days, the owners became suspicious when they noticed that the group always sent a neighborhood boy out to purchase the meals and bring them back to the Bottger to their rooms. They decided to notify the police but were overheard by one of the gang members. They quickly left just ahead of the law. However, they were captured shortly thereafter and imprisoned. In 1956, a young Elvis Presley, along with Bill Black and Scotty Moore, performed two shows in Albuquerque and stayed at the Bottger, leaving the next day for a show in Amarillo. In the late ’50s, a prominent Italian family rented the Bottger for a large wedding. Frank Sinatra was a guest and performed in the courtyard after the wedding dinner was served.
Pieces of the Bottger property were gradually sold off and the family donated some land for the San Felipe School just to the east. In approximately 1970, amid a family dispute relating to inheritance of the property, the Bottger Mansion remained vacant for several years and then was sold outside the family. Over the years the open front porch was closed in and the house became an art gallery, restaurant, beauty parlor, and several other business ventures. It became a bed and breakfast in 1989.
The 1912 Bottger Mansion is one of only a few mansions built in Albuquerque and remains virtually in its original form, one of the few properties in the area to escape Pueblo Revival renovation. Today, Bottger Mansion of Old Town is known as a popular Albuquerque historic bed and breakfast. Located on Historic Route 66, the Bottger Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only lodging accommodation in the Old Town Historic District. Read more about the history of Old Town here.
Plan your stay at the Bottger Mansion, and book your favorite room!
For more information on Old Town Albuquerque, and all of the best things to do in Albuquerque, be sure to download our Vacation Guide.