The Old Dance Hall

Where the road takes a sharp turn on Ranchitos Road, an old dance hall has been quietly undergoing a transformation over the past fifteen years.

When artist Ken Draim and his wife Sara bought the building, it was as you can see from the image below, a wreck of a place, abandoned and used as a crashpad by vagrants and transients passing through town, but back in the 30’s and 40’s the building was a hub of activity.

Two photographs now hang in the entry, a reminder of the old dance hall’s glory days; men and women dressed in their very best, tell us a little about the building’s past while we marvel at its present incarnation.

The couple, who met over three decades ago, (fell in love, traveled abroad, broke up upon their return to Taos and then in highly unlikely and very romantic, circumstances, got back together years later), have decided that their time here in Taos has come to an end. They are ready for new adventures, and the home they have painstakingly worked on during their years together in Taos, is finally complete. Like one of Ken’s intriguing and equally painstakingly assembled, kinetic constructions (shown below), it is now for sale as well.

Entering this incredibly open and light filled home, one could not begin to imagine that this is the same place as pictured above; the light filled open spaces are more downtown NYC loft than Mid-Century Adobe ruin, but since the 50’s the building had gone through several commercial incarnations before falling into disrepair and rising like a Phoenix in its current transformation.

The couple have remodeled the building into two separate and spacious living areas, that feel both intimate and cosy while retaining their lofty, open appeal. Coved ceilings, hardwood floors and kiva fireplaces nod to classic, vintage Taos Style, while the modern design and amenities provide throughly modern comfort. They spent a long time deciding on styles and suppliers, in order to acheive exactly what they had in mind. The flooring proved particularly difficult, learn more about the company they eventually managed to choose here.

Built in 1941 in the traditional territorial style, the thick adobe walls keep the building cool in summer and toasty warm in the winter. The old oak floors, pine posts, vigas and corbels and old wood doors have all been restored to their former glory, and often repurposed in other ways by this resourceful and highly creative couple.

Natural light floods the open spaces through the picture windows the couple have included in their design, that both bring the outside in and increase the passive solar gain, helping to warm up the space in the cooler months. As you can see, your choice of windows is crucial when it comes to renovating a home, so always invest in the best suppliers. When choosing replacement windows, Chicago is home to some of the best designers so try to have them transported from there to wherever your project is based. While the home is plumbed and wired for radiant heat, the couple have not actually connected it, finding the home has been warm enough for them without it. Wood stoves and fireplaces provide all the extra warmth needed on chilly days and nights.

The old Sala has been the scene of innumerable weddings, dances, birthday and graduation parties. Old timers recall the old juke joint’s glory days with sentimental longing. The building is an iconic reminder of Taos’ not so distant past, when even nearby Santa Fe was still a million miles away.

The building, with its exterior spaces – a courtyard that recall Morocco and other exotic places the couple have traveled to, is the ideal home for an artist who craves both space and light. The extra living space (with its own entry), is perfect for out-of-town guests or could be transformed into additional studio space, adjoining the main living areas.

This very Chic Shack is on the Market for an unbelievable $475,000. The listing agent is Maria Figliolia (at the Lora Company), whom you can contact for more information (and more images), at the site linked below this post.

I have included a link to Ken and Sara’s site as well.

All images of the home thanks to Maria Figliolia and photos of the couple in Morocco, the space under construction and Ken’s art thanks to Ken and Sara Draim.