Historic hotel closes doors
By Nathan French
Gleaming crystal chandeliers, historic accommodations, sumptuous cuisine, and most recently locked doors. The Historic Eklund Hotel in Clayton, New Mexico has fallen prey to declining tourism. The hotel, restaurant, and bar closed its’ doors at the end of April. The hotel, a famed piece of the Old West including a saloon with bullet holes in the tin ceiling was constructed in 1892, and underwent an extensive 2.3 million dollar renovation just five years ago.
However, that may be where the trouble began. The owners, Eklund Association Incorporated, purchased the hotel in 1992, but have struggled with dwindling business and are still wrestling with debt from the renovation. The extensive remodel was paid for with a $2.16 million loan from the First National Bank in Clayton which is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development business program. The State Historic Preservation Office also loaned an additional $200,000 for the project.
The hotel’s closing has had an impact on the Clayton community. The Eklund Saloon was one of the two bars in town and the restaurant was one of the main dining establishments in town. The hotel also served as one of only eight lodging choices in Clayton. Many of the community’s 2100 residents see the Eklund as one of the gems of Clayton, and its’ closing seems like a step backward in the progress and revitalization of Clayton. Clayton most recently has embarked on a downtown revitalization project, and the untimely closing has impacted the project.
However, most recently, Clayton city officials and residents are hoping to reopen the Eklund in efforts to stabilize the area’s economic future. Several residents and officials who are involved with the other Clayton revitalization projects are looking at the possibility of purchasing the Eklund after the foreclosure process has completed. The foreclosure process can often take around five months, but potential investors are hoping it will be much sooner.