Lived: Galeana #441, Chapala Centro, 45900 Chapala, Jal., Mexico (20.28815, -103.19097)
Inn of the Turquoise Bear, Santa Fe, 342 E Buena Vista St, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA (35.67725, -105.93776)
Buried: Hunt Bynner Gravesite, Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, USA, Plot: Buried with the ashes of his long time companion Witter Bynner beneath the carved stone weeping dog at the house where he lived on Atalaya Hill in Santa Fe, now used as the president's home for St. John's College
Buried alongside: Witter Bynner
Witter “Hal” Bynner was an American poet, writer and scholar, known for his long residence in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at what was later the Inn of the Turquoise Bear. He moved there in 1922 and he and his partner, Robert Hunt, entertained artists and literary figures such as D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O'Keeffe, Carl Sandburg, Ansel Adams, Willa Cather, Igor Stravinsky, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, W.H. Auden, Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Martha Graham, and Thornton Wilder. He became a friend of D.H. Lawrence, and traveled with him and Frieda Weekley in Mexico; he much later, in 1951, wrote on Lawrence, while he and his partner are portrayed in Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent. In 1972, the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry was founded through a bequest from Bynner. It makes grants to perpetuate the art of poetry, primarily by supporting individual poets, translations, and audience development. Since 1997, it has funded the Witter Bynner Fellowship, the recipient of which is selected by the U.S. Poet Laureate. Bynner was buried with the ashes of his longtime companion Robert Hunt beneath a carved stone weeping dog at the house where he lived on Atalaya Hill in Santa Fe, now used as the president's home for St. John's College.
Together from 1922 to 1952: 30 years.
Harold Witter Bynner aka Emanuel Morgan (August 10, 1881 – June 1, 1968)
Days of Love edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: September 21, 2014
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“Here we are, in our own house—a long house with no upstairs—shut in by trees on two sides.—We live on a wide verandah, flowers round—it is fairly hot—I spend the day in trousers and shirt, barefoot—have a Mexican woman, Isabel, to look after us—very nice. Just outside the gate the big Lake of Chapala—40 miles long, 20 miles wide. We can’t see the lake, because the trees shut us in. But we walk out in a wrap to bathe.—There are camions—Ford omnibuses—to Guadalajara—2 hours. Chapala village is small with a market place with trees and Indians in big hats. Also three hotels, because this is a tiny holiday place for Guadalajara. I hope you’ll get down, I’m sure you’d like painting here.—It may be that even yet I’ll have my little hacienda and grow bananas and oranges.” – (letter dated May 3, 1923, to Kai Gotzsche and Knud Merrild, quoted in Knud Merrild’s book, “A Poet and Two Painters: A Memoir of D.H. Lawrence.”)
Address: Calle Zaragoza 307, Chapala Centro, 45900 Chapala, Jal., Mexico (20.28815, -103.19097)
Type: Guest facility (open to public)
Phone: +52 376 765 3653
“Lawrence went to Guadalajara and found a house with a patio on the Lake of Chapala. There, Lawrence began to write his “Plumed Serpent.” He sat by the lake under a pepper tree writing it. The lake was curious with its white water. My enthusiasm for bathing in it faded considerably when one morning a huge snake rose yards high, it seemed to me, only a few feet away. At the end of the patio, we had the family that Lawrence describes in the “Plumed Serpent,” and all the life of Chapala. I tried my one attempt at civilizing those Mexican children, but when they asked me one day, “Do you have lice too, Niña,” I had enough and gave up in a rage. At night I was frightened of bandits and we had one of the sons of the cook sleeping outside our bedroom door with a loaded revolver, but he snored so fiercely that I wasn’t sure whether the fear of bandits wasn’t preferable. We quite sank into the patio life. Bynner and Spud came every afternoon, and I remember Bynner saying to me one day, while he was mixing a cocktail: “If you and Lawrence quarrel, why don’t you hit first?” I took the advice and the next time Lawrence was cross, I rose to the occasion and got out of my Mexican indifference and flew at him.” – (Frieda Lawrence, “Not I, But the Wind…”, (1934)) The house the Lawrences rented was at Zaragoza #4 (since renumbered Zaragoza #307) and became the basis for the description of Kate’s living quarters in “The Plumed Serpent.” The Lawrences lived in the house from the start of May 1923 to about July 9, that year. Interestingly, the house subsequently had several additional links to famous writers and artists. Immediately after the Lawrences departed, the next renters were American artists Everett Gee Jackson and Lowell Houser, who lived there for 18 months. They did not realize the identity of the previous tenant – “an English writer” – until the following year. Their time in Chapala is described, with great wit and charm, in Jackson’s “Burros and Paintbrushes” (1985.) Jackson visited Mexico many times and made several return visits to Chapala, including one in 1968 when he, his wife and young grandson, “rented the charming old Witter Bynner house right in the center of the village of Chapala. It had become the property of Peter Hurd, the artist…” In 1923, Bynner and Johnson stayed at the Hotel Arzapalo. In 1930, Bynner bought a home in Chapala (not the one rented by Lawrence) and was a frequent winter visitor for many years. Over the years, the house on Zaragoza that Lawrence and Frieda had occupied was extensively remodeled and expanded. The first major renovation was undertaken in about 1940 by famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Another large-scale renovation took place after the house was acquired in 1954 by American artist and architect Roy MacNicol. In the late 1970s, Canadian poet Al Purdy, a great admirer of Lawrence (to the point of having a bust of Lawrence on the hall table of his home in Ontario), wrote a hand-signed and numbered book, The D.H. Lawrence House at Chapala, published by The Paget Press in 1980, as a limited edition of 44 copies. The book includes a photograph, taken by Purdy’s wife Eurithe, of the plumed serpent tile work above the door of the Lawrence house. The town of Chapala today would be totally unrecognizable to Lawrence, but the home where he spent a productive summer writing the first draft of “The Plumed Serpent” eventually became the Quinta Quetzalcoatl, an exclusive boutique hotel.
Who: David Herbert Richards Lawrence (September 11, 1885 – March 2, 1930) aka D.H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence, together with his wife Frieda, and friends Witter Bynner and Willard (“Spud”) Johnson, visited Mexico in March 1923, initially staying in Mexico City. By the end of April, Lawrence was becoming restless and actively looking for somewhere where he could write. The traveling party had an open invitation to visit Guadalajara, the home of Idella Purnell, a former student of Bynner’s at the Univeristy of California, Berkeley. After reading about Chapala in Terry’s “Guide to Mexico,” Lawrence decided to catch the train to Guadalajara and then explore the lakeside village of Chapala for himself. Lawrence liked what he saw and, within hours of arriving in Chapala, he sent an urgent telegram back to Mexico City pronouncing Chapala “paradise” and urging the others to join him there immediately. Lawrence and his wife Frieda soon established their home for the summer in Chapala, on Calle Zaragoza. In a letter back to two Danish friends in Taos, Lawrence described both the house and the village. Life was not without its incidents and travails. Frieda, especially, was unconvinced about the charms of Chapala. Instead Witter Bynner and Robert Hunt made frequent visits to a second home in Chapala, Mexico. Their home (on the square at Galeana #441, the street name was later changed to Francisco I. Madero) was purchased from Mexican architect Luis Barragán in 1940 and was on the town’s plaza, a short distance from the lake. Hunt restored the house and, in 1943, added an extensive, rooftop terrace, which had clear views of Lake Chapala and near-by mountains. It became Bynner and Hunt’s winter home. Bynner spent much of the 1940s and early 1950s there, until he began to lose his eyesight. He returned to the USA, received treatment, and traveled to Europe with Hunt, who by the late 1950s and early 1960s took increasing responsibility for the ailing poet. Upon Bynner’s death, John Liggett Meigs and Peter Hurd, together, purchased Bynner’s house in Chapala. Along with the house, Bynner had included its content in the transfer of ownership. John described there being only four buildings on the block where the house was, and said that the house had two floors, the rooftop terrace that Hunt had added, and a “tower” overlooking Lake Chapala. The other buildings on the block included a “wonderful cantina,” which became a supermarket; another two-story house, next door, with a high wall between that house and Bynner’s house’s courtyard; and a two-story hotel on the corner. However, after John and Hurd bought Bynner’s house, they discovered that the owners of the hotel had sold the airspace over the hotel, and, one time, when John arrived, he discovered a twenty foot by forty foot “President Brandy” advertisement sign on top of the hotel, blocking his view of the lake. John said that was when he and Hurd decided to sell the place.
Queer Places, Vol. 3 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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The Inn of the Turquoise Bear occupies the home of Witter Bynner, who for almost 50 years was a prominent citizen of Santa Fe, actively participating in the cultural, artistic, and political life of the city.
Address: 342 E Buena Vista St, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA (35.67725, -105.93776)
Type: Guest facility (open to public)
Phone: +1 505-983-0798
Noted as a poet, translator and essayist, Witter Bynner was a staunch advocate of human rights, especially of Native Americans, women, and other minorities. Bynner created his rambling adobe villa, constructed in Spanish-Pueblo Revival style, from a core of rooms that date to the early XIX century. It is now considered one of Santa Fe’s most important historical estates. With its signature portico, towering pine trees, magnificent rock terraces, and lush gardens filled with lilacs, wild roses, and other flowers, the Inn offers guests a bucolic retreat close to the center of Santa Fe. Bynner and Robert Hunt, his companion of almost 40 years, were famous – or infamous – for the riotous parties they hosted in this estate, referred to by Ansel Adams as “Bynner’s bashes.” Their home was regarded as the center for the gathering of the creative and fun loving elite of Santa Fe and visitors from New York and around the world. The celebrity guest list of Bynner included D.H. Lawrence (who spent his first night in an American home in this villa), Willa Cather, Ansel Adams, Igor Stravinsky, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Aldous Huxley, Clara Bow, Errol Flynn, Rita Hayworth, Lynn Riggs, Christopher Isherwood, Carl Van Vechten, Martha Graham, Robert Oppenheimer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mary Austin, Willard Nash, Thornton Wilder, J.B. Priestly – and many others. Upon Witter’s death, he willed the estate to St. John’s College in Santa Fe who used the estate as a residence hall for a number of years. In September, 2014 the estate was once again filled with “Johnnies” celebrating their 35th reunion at “Witter Bynner” a place they once called home. In 1996, Ralph Bolton & Robert Frost, purchased the estate and created a wonderful Santa Fe bed and breakfast. The estate has not been altered in any significant way retaining its authentic Northern New Mexico charm. One can still see scant reminders of the Chinese decoration that Witter used to distinguish it. In April, 2014 Dan Clark & David Solem acquired the Inn. Their goals – as innkeepers and as stewards of the estate and land that Bynner loved – are to rekindle the comfort, creativity and hospitality for which this home was renowned in the past, to protect, restore and extend the legacy of its famous creator, and to provide guests with a unique, restorative experience that captures the essence of Santa Fe’s past and present.
Who: Harold Witter Bynner (August 10, 1881 – June 1, 1968) aka Emanuel Morgan
Witter Bynner was a poet, writer and scholar, known for his long residence in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and association with other literary figures there. In June 1922 Bynner moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mabel Dodge Luhan introduced them to D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda, and Bynner and his former student Walter Willard “Spud” Johnson (and lover) joined the Lawrences on a trip through Mexico in 1923. The trip led to several Lawrence essays and his novel “The Plumed Serpent,” including characters based on Bynner and Johnson. Bynner ‘s related writings include three poems about Lawrence, and “Journey with Genius,” a memoir published in 1951. Mabel Dodge Luhan was not pleased about their trip, and she is said to have taken revenge on Bynner by hiring Johnson to be her own secretary. Bynner in turn wrote a play, “Cake,” satirizing her lifestyle. In 1930 Robert "Bob" Hunt arrived, originally for a visit while recuperating from an illness, but he stayed on as Bynner’s lifelong companion. They also made frequent visits to a second home in Chapala, Mexico. The home was purchased from Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Bynner spent much of the 1940s and early 1950s there, until he began to lose his eyesight. He returned to the U.S., received treatment, and traveled to Europe with Hunt, who by the late 1950s and early 1960s took increasing responsibility for the ailing poet. Hunt died of a heart attack in January 1964. On January 18, 1965, Bynner had a severe stroke. He never recovered, and required constant care until he died on June 1, 1968. Witter Bynner and Robert Hunt’s ashes were buried beneath a carved stone weeping dog at the house where they lived on Atalaya Hill in Santa Fe.
Queer Places, Vol. 1 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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