The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos by Peggy Pond Church

The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos by Peggy Pond Church

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The haunting experiences of a shy Pennsylvania woman who opened a tearoom in her adobe home that became a haven for neighboring nuclear scientists and Indians alike.

This is the story of Edith Warner, who lived for more than twenty years as a neighbor to the Indians of San Ildefonso Pueblo, near Los Alamos, New Mexico. She was a remarkable woman, a friend to everyone who knew her, from her Indian companion Tilano, who was an elder of San Ildefonso, to Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer, and the other atomic scientists who worked at Los Alamos during World War II.

"A finely told tale of a strange land and of a rare character who united with it and, without seeming to do anything to that end, exerted an unusual influence upon all other lovers of that soil with whom she came in contact. The quality of the country, of the many kinds of people, and of the central character come through excellently."

--Oliver La Farge


Staff Pick:

Emily Hain, Editor-at-Large

 The House at Otowi Bridge spins many stories which are woven on the delicate loom of a mere twenty years of a woman’s life; the life of Edith Warner. The author’s personal story threads unobtrusively through the book. That writer - or weaver - is Peggy Pond Church, a writer with delightful style and charismatic, precise language. 

If not for the time and place of the intersection of the author’s childhood and young adulthood in the Pajarito Canyon in New Mexico (site of the future town of Los Alamos) and the arrival in that country of a sickly 30 year-old woman from Pennsylvania, I’m certain Church would still have found her voice in other stories. But time and place are the warp and weft of an extraordinarily beautiful account of ordinary people who witnessed the ancient and sacred lands of remote New Mexico altered for all time by the U.S. government’s acquisition of Los Alamos for the Manhattan Project.

Edith Warner writes in a letter, “I am not, and have never been, the guiding hand in my life. Something — what, I do not venture to say — has prevented what I thought I wanted to do and pushed me into what I eventually did.”

Paperback Book 

University of New Mexico Press, 1973