Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, NM ©Author Adventures

Lew Wallace and the Palace of the Governors

Author Lew Wallace (1827-1905) wrote some of his classic book, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he served as a governor in the late 1880s. The book is now available as a free ebook in various formats through, which can be found by typing “Lew Wallace” in the book catalog search box. The story was also made into a 1959 movie that earned 11 Academy Awards and starred Charlton Heston.

Read more about Lew Wallace here:


Lew Wallace’s novel, Ben-Hur, was published in 1880 and remains one of the bestselling novels of all time. According to the National Endowment of the Humanities at, “It has the appeal of a rollicking historical adventure combined with a sincere Christian message of redemption. Victorians who swore off novels because of their immoral influence eagerly picked up Ben-Hur—were even encouraged to by their pastors. It became required reading in grade schools across the United States. For those who considered theater sinful, the spectacle of the Broadway version lured them in for twenty-one years, not to mention the touring show that required four entire trains to transport all the scenery and livestock. More than twenty million people saw Ben-Hur on stage between 1899 and 1920, complete with live horses running on hidden treadmills to recreate the chariot race.”

The feature film version, starring Charleton Heston, was released in 1959, winning 11 Academy Awards and triggering a new surge in book sales.

A Lew Wallace Quote

“Men speak of dreaming as if it were a phenomenon of night and sleep. They should know better. All results achieved by us are self-promised, and all self-promises are made in dreams awake. Dreaming is the relief of labor, the wine that sustains us in act. We learn to love labor, not for itself, but for the opportunity it furnishes for dreaming, which is the great under-monotone of real life, unheard, unnoticed, because of its constancy. Living is dreaming. Only in the grave are there no dreams.”
— Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur

The Palace of the Governors Today

A photo taken outside the Palace of the Governors appears at the top of this page. The front of the building is where craftspeople, like jewelry artisans, doll makers, and other various textile artists, daily display and sell their work for very reasonable prices. They can also tell you which mine the gems they use came from and may be willing to negotiate prices, especially with multiple purchases. Unfortunately, many mines in this region that were once rich with natural gems are getting depleted.

The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe is the fifth stop on our New Mexico Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart