The South Capitol residence of Witter Bynner, one of Santa Fe’s most unusual characters for much of the 20th century, is for sale — again.
Last month, owners Ralph Bolton and Robert Frost listed the 8,600-square-foot compound, located on just over an acre at 342 E. Buena Vista St., for $2.45 million.
For most of the 16 years they have owned the property, they have run it as the Inn of the Turquoise Bear. Although the 10-unit bed-and-breakfast is widely advertised as “gay-friendly,” “We actively seek all guests,” Frost said. “It really doesn’t matter who you are.”
“When we bought this [in 1996], we knew nothing about who Witter Bynner was. We didn’t have any idea,” Frost said. “So we contacted a friend of ours who worked for the Library on Congress and had him run the name through and see what came up. We ended up with 18 pages of facts. … So, we became more and more interested in him as an individual and as a mentor for other up-and-coming writers and artists.”
Boulton and Frost briefly put the property on the market in the fall of 2008, just as the economy turned sour. Frost said tourism began to dip after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
They continue to keep the property licensed with the city as a bed-and-breakfast, although this time, they’re marketing it as a residence.
“By doing it as an historic piece of real estate, now somebody could turn it into their own family compound,” Frost said. “It’s not for everyone. You have to be able to look at this house and say, ‘Alright, disregard the current use of the various rooms, other than the bathrooms and the kitchen and the dining gallery and things like this,’ and say, ‘Oh, this would make a phenomenal private estate.’ ”
The house includes large libraries with built-in bookshelves, a large living room where Bynner used to throw parties and a separate carriage house that has been made handicapped-accessible.
Bynner initially willed the house and much of its contents to St. John’s College, which used it to house students for several years and then sold it.
Most of the furnishings are no longer with the house, although Frost and Boulton have been able to acquire a number of Bynner’s personal belongings — an eighth-century Chinese bronze, a carved wall panel from the 1880s and various personal documents such as the invoice from a Santa Fe automobile dealer for a 1951 Buick Roadmaster convertible. None of these items is included with the real estate.
Frost said he’s had inquires from interested buyers in the Santa Fe area as well as from Austin, Texas, and Dallas.