FARMINGTON — Creaking floorboards and eerie feelings abound in the old building that used to house one of Farmington's earliest hotels at 302 W. Main Street.

Now occupied by Jae-Geo's Bridal Shop, in 1925 the building served as the Avery Hotel and offered 40 rooms to visitors and to new Farmington residents.

"That's the first place my parents stayed when they came to Farmington in 1928," said local historian and author Marilu Waybourn, who has written numerous books documenting San Juan County history.

At that time, there were only a few rooming houses and hotels including the Allen Grand Hotel, said Waybourn, whose father came to the area to work for the First National Bank.

The Avery Hotel had a restaurant in the bottom floor, and during the oil "boom" in the 1950's, Waybourn said the restaurant was a popular meeting place.

"With so many people coming into the area, there weren't enough places to live, nor were there enough schools or phones to go around," she said. "Many people came to the Avery to use the telephones. It was also a really good place to eat."

The hotel also had a balcony (now gone) that would be used by those chosen to judge local parades passing by on Main Street, said Waybourn.

Exactly when the building ceased being used for a hotel is unclear, but the current owner of Jae-Geo's says some of the former guests may still be around.


Jeannette Vigil has owned and operated the bridal shop in this building for the past fifteen years, and said the location has long had a reputation for being haunted.

"There was a group here about three or four years ago that came to set up infrared cameras," said Vigil. "They were studying orbs."

Orbs are photographic anomalies often sought by ghost-hunters as evidence of spirit activity.

"They met on a Sunday night, and caught a lot of orbs.

They said we had positive orbs'," said Vigil, who added that the store's security camera often captures images of orbs moving through the store at night.

Store associate Stephanie Sherman agrees that there may be paranormal aspects to the building.

"I feel something very creepy when I go down into the basement, like something is there," she said.

Despite possible hangers-on from another era, Vigil and Sherman are happy to be working in such a historic building.

"We've had older people come in and talk about the restaurant that used to be in the back," said Vigil. "There was also a barber operating back there, and they said it was the only place you could get a cheap haircut and a beer at the same time."

One elderly customer told Vigil he used to shine shoes in the lobby of the Avery when he was a boy.

"He said he got himself a little box for people to put their feet on while he shined their shoes," said Vigil. "I asked him what he used to shine the shoes with, and he said, that's where the word spit shine' comes from!'" she laughs.