Prisms: Dwan Light Sanctuary Las Vegas, NM

This week instead of a Photo of the Week, we have photos of the week. We were fortunate to take Southwest Detour’s tour of Montezuma Castle, a former Fred Harvey hotel in Las Vegas, NM. The current castle, built in 1886 was the hotel’s first luxury property. The original hotel, built in 1882 at at the bottom of the hill burned down.  The second, built at the current location on top of the hill lost its top two floors in a fire. Three was the charm.

The tour, led by Kathy Hendrickson of Southwest Detours, gives a comprehensive view of the property which closed in 1903. Many of the original features remain or have been meticulously restored faithful to the original details. The former castle is now home to the United States campus of United World College. One of our stops on the tour was the Dwan Light Sanctuary.

Dwan Light Sanctuary

Prism reflections at the Dwan Light Sanctuary, photo Steve Collins

Prism reflections at the Dwan Light Sanctuary, photo Steve Collins

What is the Dwan Light Sanctuary

The Dwan Light Sanctuary, built in 1996, was the vision of heiress and art patron Virginia Dwan, artist Charles Ross and Santa Fe architect Laban Wingert. It is a place for quiet reflection and meditation. Musical concerts are also performed here. The circular building, based on the Pueblo Indian kivas, features 12 large prisms in the apses and ceiling. When the sun shines through them a rainbow of light is reflected on the walls and floor which is divided into 12 pie-like segments.

Detail of Charles Ross Solar Spectrum, photo Steve Collins

Detail of Charles Ross Solar Spectrum, photo Steve Collins

When we arrived the sun was bright and the floor reflected the light and color from the prisms. As the sun went behind a cloud the rainbows disappeared. Pick a sunny day to visit the Dwan Light Center.

Dwan Light Sanctuary, photo Steve Collins

The exterior of the Dwan Light Sanctuary, photo/Steve Collins

While the school is closed to the public except for Hendrickson’s tours and a once a month student-led tour, the sanctuary built on the campus is open to the public. If you want a tour of Montezuma Castle that centers on the Fred Harvey days contact Southwest Detours at least several days in advance. If you want to know about the school take the student-led tour.

Author’s note: We were guests of Southwest Detours so we could experience the tour as a possibility for our travel clients as well as for writing about it. Opinions are our own.

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13 Responses to “Prisms: Dwan Light Sanctuary Las Vegas, NM”

  1. Elaine J. Masters
    August 31, 2019 at 11:14 am #

    What a lovely discovery. I’d love to visit the Sanctuary sometime.

    • Billie Frank
      August 31, 2019 at 12:07 pm #

      You would love it, Elaine! It has amazing energy.

  2. Donna Janke
    August 31, 2019 at 12:21 pm #

    The Dawn Light Sanctuary looks lovely. I like the way light streams in. I think the use of the word sanctuary in the name is apt.

    • Billie Frank
      August 31, 2019 at 3:07 pm #

      I agree. It was so amazingly peaceful there.

  3. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    September 1, 2019 at 1:09 pm #

    While I’d love to take the tour of the castle I know I’d also enjoy seeing the Dwan Light Sanctuary. The outside looks quite plain but it’s easy to imagine from your photos the feeling of serenity and play of light inside. So lovely!

  4. Kristin Henning
    September 2, 2019 at 10:09 am #

    The Dwan Light Sanctuary sounds really cool. I wonder if it is rented out to groups for retreats. Do you know? (And no, I didn’t know there was another Las Vegas!)

    • Billie Frank
      September 3, 2019 at 1:46 pm #

      I would think yes, but I don’t know. You can contact United World College. It would only work for a small event as it’s not a large space. Lots of people don’t know about Las Vegas, NM> When I was a concierge, people driving up from the airport in Albuquerque and see the sign. They thought it was Sin City and were all ready to go gambling.

  5. Suzanne Fluhr
    September 4, 2019 at 8:44 am #

    I am completely in awe of rainbows, so I suspect I would really enjoy the prism room in the Dawn Light Sanctuary—-on a sunny day.

    • Billie Frank
      September 5, 2019 at 4:53 pm #

      On a cloudy day it would be a bit of a bust- thought the energy in the circular building is certainly worth noting. We got there when the sun was out and saw the rainbows and then the sun went down and, nada. Our timing was perfect!

  6. Lois Alter Mark
    September 7, 2019 at 1:40 pm #

    How pretty! I love the way the light hits. Who knew there was a Las Vegas in New Mexico? It seems like a far cry from the one in Nevada!

    • Billie Frank
      September 7, 2019 at 3:16 pm #

      Not too many people- lol. When people see the sign on the interstate as they approach Santa Fe they get all excited. It cracks me up. It is a beautiful little city,

    • Billie Frank
      September 14, 2019 at 7:12 am #

      It’s 180 degrees. No glitz in LVNM unless they’re making a movie.

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