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Hotel Gadsden’s Colorful History

Our favorite magazine, Arizona Highways, recently did a feature on Hotel Gadsden and the nearby John Slaughter Ranch in Douglas, Arizona. Our adventures don’t usually take us that far south but the colorful history of the hotel and ranch compelled us to continue riding through the Ghost Town Trail and into Douglas for the night.

Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -

Douglas’ history dates all the way back to the 1500s when Spanish explorers established a route from Mexico, but its hey-dey didn’t begin until the the early 1900s. The Phelps Dodge mining corporation, in operation until 1987, chose the location as the smeltering site to compliment the copper mines of nearby Bisbee, Arizona. The city boomed and had a thriving economy that could boast not only of having the largest theater between LA and San Antonio, but also of paved streets, 10 school districts, 7 churches, a large brewery, and the opulent Hotel Gadsden.

Hotel Gadsden opened in 1907 and was a popular stop for cattlemen, ranchers, miners, and businessmen. Tragedy struck in 1929 and much of the hotel was burned down. The marble staircase survived, a sign that the hotel wasn’t ready to kick the bucket. The owner of Hotel Gadsden made his fortune during prohibition (*wink*wink) and was able to rebuild on a much grander scale: it was one of the first hotels to feature personal bathrooms in all 160 air-cooled rooms. By the 1980s, the hotel fell into disrepair, like the Douglas economy. In 2013-2014, Hotel Gadsden was featured on the TV show Hotel Impossible and was partially renovated for the show.

Old Town Douglas, Arizona -
Downtown Douglas on a Saturday afternoon. We ended up re-exploring nearby Bisbee because of Douglas’ quiet historic district. It was too… quiet for us.

Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -

Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -
The hotel uses old fashioned keys for each suite.

Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -

Marble staircase chipped by Pancho Villa when he rode his horse up to the mezzanine in the Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -
One of the hotel’s most famous legends involves the grand marble staircase, up which Pancho Villa rode his horse to the mezzanine and chipped the 7th stair. What he was doing riding a horse in a hotel is another story but it is said his ghost haunts the halls of Gadsden.


Tiffany & Co stained glass mural in the Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -
An authentic Tiffany & Co. stained glass mural.

The original switchboard in the Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -
The hotel’s museum showcases its original switchboard, one of the first in Arizona.

Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -

Renovated suite in the Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -
Marble, gold leafed pillars in the Historic Hotel Gadsden, Douglas, Arizona -
Solid marble and 14K gold leaf-topped pillars.

By America’s standards, this historic hotel is old. Many standard comforts you would find in the Waldorf Astoria is noticeably absent here but for those truly ethusiastic about Arizona’s history of the old west, a stay at the Hotel Gadsden is not one to miss!

Hotel Gadsden Overview

  • Address: 1046 G Ave, Douglas, AZ 85607
  • Parking: Free lot behind hotel
  • Things to note:
    1. No central heating in hotel. Space heaters provided in each room.
  • Tips:
    1. Request a renovated suite.
  • Pets allowed: Yes

How About You?
  • Have you stayed here before?
  • Do you have any tips? Feel free to leave a comment below!
Tags : douglasold west