An energetic and ambitious woman has come to Lincoln, New Mexico, to restore the town’s legendary Ellis Store.



Every day for the last 50 years I have had the good fortune to look outside my window and view the structure known today as the Ellis Store (established, 1876). Its long, flowing sweep of a porch; its wood-shingled roof and expansive gardens, along with adobe walls that harbor memories of the past, are all there as they were during the brutality of the Lincoln County War, the Apache Wars and the fight against the White Plague (TB). The violence reached a crescendo during the infamous and bloody Lincoln County War, when enemy combatants fighting over land, money and probably a woman or two fired their weapons from nearby hills into the ranch house during the destructive five-day battle in July 1878. Billy the Kid no doubt visited the place when it was a ranch headquarters for Isaac Ellis. And when the war was finished, people took a step back and realized this was a beautiful place situated along the Río Bonito. Come spring the blossoming orchards of pear, apple and plums along the acequias were exquisite as the perfumed air replaced the acrid smell of gun smoke.

However, today, another war is ongoing and that is one of restoration, preservation and repurposing this wonderful building before it is lost as part of our regional heritage. There is a new lady in town, and she means business! As Amy Gauthier indicated, “falling in love” with the place was easy but now the hard part is at hand, and she has taken that bull by the horns too. From painting, cleaning and getting rid of broken furniture, fixing tiles, renewing hardwood floors and leaking pipes, this woman is a whirlwind of energy.


Amy Gauthier is the new proprietor of the historic Ellis Store Bed and Breakfast in Lincoln, New Mexico. She is restoring the 1876-era property, which has been shuttered for a couple of years, and hopes to be open for business in the near future. Courtesy Amy Gauthier


Researching grants and those who came before her, Gauthier has future plans including possibly an equine therapy and general wellness approach as a way forward for guests, along with historical symposia, and a welcoming locale to discuss “the way of things.” That fits perfectly with part of the site’s history as a TB sanitorium under the wise guidance of Dr. James Laws. The beautiful Bonito River also flows peacefully through the property reminding us that early Mogollon pueblo folks and Apaches lived here, too, way before we came on the scene. They farmed and irrigated from this valued resource.

A grand opening, date yet to be determined, is coming soon. Nevertheless, Gauthier reminds us that this is all a work in progress and will be for many years. “It is such an honor and privilege to be in Lincoln. I hope to be here for some time,” says the new and proud owner from a nearby ladder.

Even the ghosts of times past must be smiling. Perhaps visitors will become part of Ms. Gauthier’s hope that restoring this home will also help restore people and their souls as well.

True West Contributing Editor Lynda Sánchez has long been an advocate for preserving the West.  She was awarded the Best Preservation Project in the USA by TW in 2007 for her work in saving Fort Stanton, New Mexico. It is now a NM Historic Site. She is a guest columnist of “Old West Saviors” while Jana Bommersbach is on sabbatical.

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