207 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87501
The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a former Roman Catholic church that is now used as a museum and a wedding chapel.
The chapel was commissioned by the Sisters of Loretto for their girls' school, Loretto Academy, in 1873.
It is known for its unusual helix-shaped spiral staircase (the "Miraculous Stair"). The staircase is built mostly out of wood and is held together by wooden pegs and glue rather than nails or other hardware. The inner stringer consists of seven wooden segments joined together with glue, while the longer outer stringer has nine segments. The handrails were added later, in 1887. The staircase does not actually stand by itself: Joe Nickell identified as supports the inner wood stringer as well as an iron bracket attached to a column.
Loretto Academy was founded in 1853 and continued to operate until 1968. Afterward, the previously all-male St. Michael's High School turned co-ed in order to accommodate the Academy's female students.
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