The Legend Behind the
Town and its Name
[reprinted courtesy of The Luna Mansion]
In 1692 Domingo de Luna came to New Mexico on a land grant from the King of Spain.
A few years later, Don Pedro Otero came to Valencia County under similar
circumstances. These two families grew, aquired fortunes in land and livestock, and
became extremely powerful in politics and prominent in territorial society . The
family heads became friends and business associates. The marriages of Solomon Luna
to Adelaida Otero, and Manuel A. Otero to Eloisa Luna in the late 1800's united these two
families into what became known as the Luna-Otero Dynasty.
In 1880 the Santa Fe Railroad wanted right-of-way through the Luna property. In
return for this favor, and because the proposed railroad tracks went squarely through the
existing Luna hacienda, the railroad agreed to build a new home to the specifications of
Don Antonio Jose and his family. Legend has it that numerous trips through the South
by the Luna family inspired the architectural design of the mansion. Whether or not
this is true, the building is unique in that, while it is southern colonial in style, its
basic construction material is adobe.
Because Don Antonio Jose died in 1881, the first family to occupy the mansion was his
oldest son, Tranquilino. After Don Tranquilino's death in Washington while serving
in the legislature, younger brother Solomon took the reins of the family. Although
Solomon was probably the most famous of the Lunas, he was not very prolific. With no
children in his family, control passed to his nephew, Eduardo Otero, in the early 1900's.
It was during this time, specifically in the 1920's that the mansion truly became
the outstanding building that now exists. During this period the solarium was
constructed, the front portico was added, and the ironwork, which once surrounded about
five times as much property as it now does, was erected. Responsible for these and
other improvements was a talented and creative woman, Josefita Manderfield Otero, wife of
Don Eduardo. Josefita, or Pepe as she is affectionately remembered, was a daughter
of William R. Manderfield, founder of the Santa Fe New Mexican. This fine lady ruled
the mansion with a gentle and loving hand and spent her days caring for her magnificent
gardens and applying paint to canvas. There are those in this area who still
remember and speak highly of her.
The words "Los Lunas" in spanish means, where the Lunas live. Before
the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad, Los Lunas identified a geographic location of the
families ranch headquarters and home. Growth as a town, and bustling bedroom
community to Albuquerque that it is today, began after the railroad arrived.
Luna-Otero Mansion is preserved today as a landmark in Valencia County, and was put to use
to serve the public as a fine restaurant, and to display an important part of New Mexico
"..the ironwork, which once surrounded about 5 times more than it does
today, was erected" (during the 1920's).
On Sundays, various string quartets
softly serenade customers from the formal chambers behind the arched, picture window.
Luna Mansion is listed on the State of
New Mexico Historical roster.
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