Roswell, New Mexico – UFO Capital of the World!
Main Street Downtown — South of the Courthouse
(The Roswell UFO District: Souvenir Shops, Aliens, UFO Museum, Restaurants)
Some of Our Attractions:
200 Block, North Main Street
Do you feel an eerie presence the closer you get to the UFO Museum? Like alien eyes are watching you? Check out the street lamps from here to 1st Street—and a few other places along Main Street.
Roswell Landing (205 N. Main). This souvenir shop has the usual UFO flying saucer merchandise, but the t-shirt slogans seem more clever and the books more “far out.” Its fascinating miniature scenes of daily Alien life are, unfortunately, not for sale, but information about a proposed resort, Earth Station Roswell, is available to prospective investors. Open M-Sat 9-7, closed Sun, holidays variable.
Roswell Space Center (former Beaty’s Steam Laundry)(116 E. 2nd). Beaty’s Steam Laundry, occupying this building from shortly after 1900 until 1924 when it closed, gave the Soo Lee Hand Laundry across the street strong competition. In later years the building held a plumbing and heating company and a paint and glass contractor.
Today the “Off-World Trade Goods” at Roswell Space Center consist of attractive t-shirts designed by the owner-artist, alien salsa and other good stuff, alien marshmallow guns, and numerous other trinkets popular with all types of visitors—you may notice little green footprints on the sidewalk leading here from Main Street. Inside, their Roswell Spacewalk (small admission fee) contains space scenes illuminated by black light “that rival the ice moons of Jupiter.” Outside, their Space Mural (a work in progress) and their garbage cans are otherworldly. 627-6868. Open 8-6 every day, holidays variable, closed Christmas.
Alien Zone (216 N. Main). This large souvenir shop has an extensive collection of t-shirts and other alien merchandise, as well as cold drinks and snacks. For a fee, tourists can photograph themselves among a variety of life-sized aliens in “Area 51” to show friends at home what they really discovered in Roswell. 627-6982. Open 9:30-5 every day, closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Planet Roswell (204 N. Main). The t-shirts, postcards, books, and giant UFO flying discs in this small souvenir shop are worth a stop. A favorite t-shirt slogan: “What happens in Roswell—didn’t happen.” 627-3300. Open M-Sat 9-7, closed Sun, holidays variable.
Roswell Home Furnishings (Jaffa-Prager Mercantile Company site, Former Mabie-Lowrey Hardware Company, Former Wilmot Hardware Company) (115-117 N. Main). This location was originally the site of the largest mercantile business in early Roswell—the Jaffa-Prager Mercantile Company, Roswell’s first department store. Like many German Jews in the Nineteenth Century, four Jaffa brothers emigrated from Prussia to Trinidad, Colorado, by way of Pennsylvania, in the 1870s where they established a grocery business. Three brothers of the next generation, Nathan, Harry, and Joseph Jaffa, came to Roswell. Nathan established a mercantile business in 1886, first on a small scale at John Chisum’s South Spring River Ranch, then on this site near “downtown” Roswell. Sidney and William Prager joined him and his brothers a year later to organize the Jaffa-Prager Mercantile Company, selling groceries and dry goods and dealing in wool and hides. All members of the firm were civic minded and supported the growth of Roswell. Their business thrived over the next ten years. In fact, when early settlers got around to naming streets, they decided that this important store marked the beginning of town, so they called its location the corner of 1st and Main Streets. In 1896 the Jaffa-Prager Mercantile Company sold their successful business to the Joyce-Pruitt Company but Nathan Jaffa and William Prager continued to play important entrepreneurial roles in the growth of Roswell well into the Twentieth Century.
Jay Mabie, father-in-law of famous western music performer of the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, Louise Massey Mabie, founded the Mabie-Lowrey Hardware Company in this current building in 1912. Its intricate architectural details remain, underneath the current metal and stucco façade.
During the 1920s before radio came to Roswell, the Mabie-Lowrey Hardware Company set up a large baseball diamond sign on their porch roof. Crowds gathered along the street to hear them broadcast each World Series game over a loud speaker, based on information from the wire at the Roswell Daily Record office, with announcers reporting the play-by-play action and providing “color” while they moved markers around the bases on the sign.
A young man named Dan Wilmot became an officer of the Mabie-Lowrey Hardware Company in 1922, following such Roswell notables as William Prager, Nathan Jaffa, and Sheriff John Poe. Wilmot helped run the business until 1942 when he took it over, changing its name to the Wilmot Hardware Company which remained in operation until the 1970s. It was Dan Wilmot and his wife Grace who reported seeing a flying saucer zoom over their house shortly before the 1947 UFO Crash.
Roswell Alien Corner (126 N. Main). Once called the Apache Gallery—there’s still a painting of Geronimo on the wall around back—this business found that UFO merchandise sells better. It still carries some souvenir Native American pottery, Mexican imports, rocks and minerals, dolls, and other interesting items in addition to alien souvenirs. Need a cow skull? Or an alien skull? This is the place.
One of the first permanent structures in Roswell, this two-story local-made-brick building was constructed as the El Capitan Building in 1894 and housed the Roswell Drug Store for many years. The upstairs contained rooms for rent, which reportedly are still intact (but closed off and creepy). The current metal façade covers the usual fancy architectural details of that era but the original structure can be glimpsed by peeking up under the façade outside the front door. Bricked-up windows and the old tin roof on the building next door are visible from the alley. 627-7489. Open M-Sat 9-4:30 in winter, 9-8 in summer, Sun 12:30-4, holidays variable, closed Christmas.
International UFO Museum and Research Center (former Plains Theater, Pauly Hotel site) (114 N. Main). As Roswell’s primary tourist destination, the UFO Museum welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world year, ranging from serious researchers to curious fun seekers to con-firmed skeptics. You can even have your photo taken here by a professional photographer with a UFO backdrop, for a fee. In addition to exhibits about the Roswell UFO crash, the Museum presents information on other UFO sightings, crop circles, ancient astronauts, alien abductions, Area 51, government cover-ups and conspiracies, and just about every other UFO- or alien-related topic. The Museum’s goal is not necessarily to provide answers, but to stimulate questions. It also contains the world’s most complete UFO research library with books, pamphlets, magazine articles, original documents, and memorabilia related to UFOs, as well as Internet access for the benefit of re-searchers and a marvelous mural painted by Roswell High School art students. Various controversies have arisen within the Museum itself over the years, but it remains a dynamic institution.
Many of the UFO Museum exhibits consist of newspaper clippings and other documents, with some three-dimensional displays, art, and a wall of fun UFO cartoons—were you expecting real aliens? Overall, the museum appeals more to adults than children, as many of the exhibits require detailed reading, but a real devotee could spend hours and hours here. The autopsy scene props from the 1994 Showtime movie Roswell is the kids’ favorite, except for the Gift Shop, of course. The building is cleverly arranged to exit visitors through this Gift Shop, which has more alien and UFO merchandise than you could ever imagine—t-shirts, including official UFO Festival shirts, mugs, posters, door mats, shot glasses, Christmas ornaments, baseball caps, stickers, refrigerator magnets, key chains, action figures, DVDs, and lots of books, just to name a few.
This location on Main Street has catered to visitors and residents alike since Roswell’s early years. An adobe cantina—one of many “thirst emporiums” in early Roswell—hosted fun-seeking pioneers on this spot in 1885.
In early 1890 Allene O’Neal, a former actress who claimed to have been on stage at Ford’s Theater when President Lincoln was assassinated, opened Roswell’s first real hotel in a new adobe building erected here. She named the hotel after her “benefactor,” P.F. Pauly, builder of the first Chaves County Courthouse, who financed the project. The Pauly Hotel was “The Only First-Class Hotel in the City” as its old ad read, and in July 1890 E.A. Cahoon opened Roswell’s first bank, eventually called the First National Bank of Roswell, in the hotel lobby.
When James Stockard, an early Roswell “wheeler-dealer,” took over in 1898 he changed its name to the Grand Central Hotel, adding a gambling operation and the fancy saloon pictured in an 1897 photo in the Wells Fargo Bank lobby. Later owners operated it as the Bankhead Hotel after World War I, until fire in the spring of 1937 completely destroyed the building. The location served as a used car lot before the Plains Theater was constructed on the site in 1947. This movie theater remained in business until 1978, then the building stood more or less vacant until the UFO Museum moved here in 1997.
The Roswell Morning Dispatch, a now-defunct newspaper that started as the Southwestern Dispatch in 1925 and was absorbed by the Roswell Daily Record in 1950, operated in the building to the south of the hotel from 1931 to 1949 (it survived the fire). The UFO Museum has taken over this space for its Gift Shop but hints of the building’s once elaborate façade are still visible outside above the windows. It was here that Lt. Walter Haut de-livered one of his press releases about the Flying Saucer Crash in 1947. The Museum charges an admission fee. www.roswellufomuseum.com. 625-9495. Open 9-5 every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Starchild (108 E. 1st). This shop sells simple UFO crash scenes created with “genuine Roswell rocks” and cans of Alien Pate and Alien Sausages, in addition to the usual alien ID cards, t-shirts, aprons, etc., etc. 627-6990. Open 8:45-5:30 every day, later in summer, holidays variable.
Alien Zone II (06 S. Main). This souvenir shop is similar to the same owner’s Alien Zone at 216 North Main Street with clever alien t-shirts and trinkets. The spooky (PG rated) alien exhibits in the dark “Hangar 84” area are great fun, and free!—definitely worth a visit. Open 9:30-5 every day. Closed November-March.
Pecos Flavors Winery (305 N. Main). Here is a comfortable, welcoming spot for tasting and purchasing New Mexico spirits including the Pecos Flavors Winery Galactic Series (Cabernet Sauvignon, White Zinfandel, Muscat); Pecos Applause (a sweet white) and Pecos Pleasure (a red table wine); Billy’s Blush from Tularosa Vineyards for more “local color”; and Alien Amber Ale from Sierra Blanca Brewery. Gourmet snacks, Alien Jerky in several flavors, and Alien Dust (dip mixes) also tempt. Fancy New Mexico souvenirs and a delightful little children’s book (ages 4-8) T is for Tortilla by Jody Alpers, one of the owners, are also for sale. The location hosts occasional local musical talent. 627-6265. Open M-Th 10-7, F and Sat 10-8, closed Sun and Christmas.
El Toro Bravo Bakery (102 W. 1st). A colorful variety of Mexican pastries is available here along with tamales by the dozen. Use the tongs to place your selections on a tray and take them to the cashier. 627-5701. Open M-Sat 8a.m.-9p.m., Sun 7a.m.-9p.m., holidays variable.
El Toro Bravo Restaurant (102 S. Main). The small Mexican buffet here is both flavorful and moderately priced, as are items from the menu. Occasionally live music entertains during the evening on weekends. 622-9280. Open for lunch and dinner every day, holidays variable.
The Souvenirs (Aliens, UFOs, and ???)
Visitors sometimes call Roswell’s UFO-themed downtown area “tacky.” Others love its unique aura, as Main Street from the Courthouse to the UFO Museum and several adjacent side streets are lined with souvenir shops selling everything you could ever want related to aliens and UFOs. Each souvenir seems tackier than the next, but that is part of the fun.
Most stores in Roswell can scare up an Alien or UFO souvenir if pressed.
These that specialize in other-worldly merchandise are all in the Downtown area, except for Wal-Mart:
UFO Museum Gift Shop
Alien Zone II
Roswell Space Center
Wal-Mart Super Center (also carries Roswell High School merchandise)
Souvenirs for Your Memory or Memory Card:
Formal Photos Ops:
Alien Zone “Area 51”
Alien Zone II “Hangar 84”
Roswell Space Center “Spacewalk”
Outdoor Murals and Art Works that feature Aliens or Space:
UFO Museum Mural
McDonald’s Space Mural
Roswell Space Center Mural—and garbage cans
Copy Rite Building Mural
Art Museum Annex Mural
Goddard High School Space Mural
Adult Center Carving
Wal-Mart Super Center Windows
Alien Street Lamps
Roswell High School (no aliens, just the sign)
UFO Museum façade
Corner of South Monroe and East Hobbs Streets
Corner of South Elm and East Alameda Streets in Chihuahuita
Corner of South Georgia and West McGaffey Streets west of the Relief Route
Available During the UFO Festival Only:
Souvenir booths at the Civic Center
Crash Site Tours
UFO Haunted House
Goddard Planetarium Space Show
Roswell Community Little Theater UFO Production
For other activities, ask at the UFO Museum or Visitor’s Center
For more complete information about the UfO District in downtown Roswell and about alien and UFO souvenirs, including locations . . .
BUY the paperback or ebook edition of Lynn Michelsohn’s guidebook
Roswell, Your Travel Guide to the UFO Capital of the World!
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