San Carlos

The hotel provides the public with little information about its history. Our team researches the hotel's past, from the very beginning, verifying its exact opening date and providing an overview of its history up to the present day.?If you have any useful information and would like to share it, please send it to you This is what we know so far (attention: unverified history!): 1874 "Phoenix's first school is built" Both the Hotel San Carlos and its location of Central and Monroe avenues have a long and pivotal role in Phoenix history. Of significant importance is the hotel's site where Native Americans once worshipped the God of learning. Perhaps because of this, Phoenix's first school, a small, one room adobe building with only a dirt floor, was built here in 1874. That structure was replaced in 1879 with a two-story brick building of four rooms and a bell tower. This new structure was the fourth brick building erected in Phoenix. There were no buildings of any kind on Central Avenue (then Center Street) north of the school. 1893 "Schoolhouse expanded to meet educational demands" In 1893, the brick schoolhouse was expanded to sixteen rooms and, for almost a quarter century, served the school children of Phoenix. 1916 "Schoolhouse condemned to make way for tremendous hotel" The school building was beginning to fall apart, declared unsafe, and condemned. The property was put up for sale. The entire block was purchased in 1919 from the Babbitts to become the site of a "giant" nine-story, 300-room hotel (forerunner of the San Carlos). This project never materialized, and the entire Central School block remained empty. 1927 "Hotel San Carlos Construction Begins to meet Phoenix's tourist demand" Construction began on the present Hotel San Carlos. Completed in early 1927, the San Carlos was touted as one of the most modern hotels in the Southwest being the first high-rise, fully air-conditioned, luxuriously appointed and elevatored hotel of that day. The headline of the Arizona Gazette (now the Arizona Republic) boldly stated on the front page on the March 19, 1928 issue, that the hotel had reached its goal and was to hold its formal opening the following evening. The public was invited to attend the reception to be held in the lobby, and visitors were to be taken on a tour of inspection. During this same year, a record 700 bottles of "home brew" were confiscated in a Phoenix home; cars of the revitalized street car system made their first run; and a customer at Rudolph's bought a new Model A Ford with 82,030 pennies. The Hotel San Carlos was built in the response to the growing need for tourist hotels in 1920s Phoenix. The building itself was a state of the art facility, the first hotel in Phoenix with steam heat, elevators and air-cooling, justifying $1.00 higher average daily rate over the other three area hotels. Dwight B. Heard Investment Company, with Mr. Heard -- an early prominent name in Phoenix development -- financed the hotel. The hotel also played a major social role as a gathering place for the city's elite in the late 1920s through 1940s. "Hotel Construction affirmation of Phoenix's rise" The Hotel San Carlos construction served as testimony to Phoenix's rising reputation as a tourist center. Dwight Heard and Charles Harris responded to this and built a hotel that could serve their growing city well. Several others hotels were built concurrently with the San Carlos. The Westward Ho, completed some 11 months after the San Carlos, sat just up the street and was a major competitor. Equally close were the Luhrs and the Adams (now the Wyndham Hotel Site). Each marketed themselves to the destination traveler, and each was completed within a few years of the San Carlos. In addition to the downtown area, other areas of town saw hotel and resort development during this time. The Arizona Biltmore, Jokake Inn, and the Wigwam were all built on premises that Arizona's climate would continue to attract winter visitors. "Phoenix Chamber invest big bucks to promote Phoenix" The Phoenix Chamber of Commerce invested substantial dollars promoting Phoenix to the eastern cities, touting Phoenix as a health "Mecca." The building of San Carlos, seen in this perspective, was then a natural response to what was obviously a growing city, one which would need, if did not already, a supply of upper-end hotels. Today, as the Luhrs and the Adams have been torn down, and the Westward Ho is in use as a senior residential center, the San Carlos is the only one operating in its form. "San Carlos dominates as Hollywood star attraction" Constructed by nationally known architects in an Italian Renaissance design, the San Carlos had luxurious appointments throughout its seven stories, featuring circulating ice water in every room and "automatic cooled air that changed in each room every three minutes." The lobby was quite elegant with tapestries of medieval Italy hanging on the walls and high molded ceilings that graced the hotel entrance. Adjoining the lobby was the Palm Room Restaurant, outdoor Sun Room, dancing, card rooms, and a coffee shop on the main floor (now Blue Saguaro Cafe.) The San Carlos was, and remains, a major Phoenix attraction. Celebrities such as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Carole Lombard, Del Webb and others spent time here over the years. Mae West stayed in the hotel during her run at the Orpheum Theatre. After one performance, she stopped by the front desk, demanded that she not be disturbed until 3 p.m. the next day and asked that champagne be delivered to her suite - with two glasses. "A Mecca for Phoenix elite" From its beginning, the San Carlos occupied a prominent place in the Phoenix social scene. There weren't too many places that could be called fashionable, where one could go to be "seen" and to see others. Before the construction of the San Carlos and the other three downtown hotels, residents had their choice of going to one of the local theaters, such as The Studio or the Orpheum, or eating out in a handful of restaurants. With the building of the San Carlos, Phoenix now had a hotel complete with dancing and card rooms; a hotel that could be called "smart." The Palm Room, as it was named, sat off the lobby and served as the cocktail area. The French Cafe, restaurant for the San Carlos, soon became a noted eating spot. Literature for the hotel boasted that its French onion soup was the best in town and fashionable Phoenicians were known, according to newspaper columns of the day, to enjoy that onion soup on Sunday afternoons. The state legislature was known (and still is) to have drinks in the Palm Room after a day at the capital building some miles away. During WW II, servicemen from Luke Airforce Base were housed at the San Carlos. "Heard Finances over $500,000 in San Carlos" The Dwight B. Heard Investment Company played a major role in the development of the San Carlos. Specifically, the real estate and development company financed the project (at a cost of nearly $850,000), and assumed 50% equity. Charles Harris owned the other half. Mr. Has and his wife Elsie and sons Leo and Fair, managed the San Carlos and lived in the penthouse built above the seventh floor. When Charles Harris died in 1946, the hotel went into his family trust, The Harris Trust Co. A project such as the San Carlos would have interested Mr. Heard for the reason that a first-class hotel would give stature to Phoenix, bring in more people and be able to offer them accommodations and fine food while increasing revenue - some of it his. "Hotel rich with design" The Hotel San Carlos is extensively in original fabric condition. The entrances and decorated with vertical-ribbed, glazed terracotta tiles. Above the entryway, at the 2nd and 3rd floor levels, are neo-classical column ornamentations with shaft and capitol. Textured concrete, scored to simulate stone masonry, is used on the first floor level. On the 4th floor, a projecting balcony with lintels resting on corbel is seen. Lintels also project on both manor facades along the bottom of the 2nd story level. The lintels recur over the tops of all 2nd story windows and are more richly decorated with scrolls and relief carvings. The original sash windows were removed during a 1980 renovation, replaced with fixed sash, single pane windows. Upon reaching the 7th floor, two vertical rectangular terracotta inset panels are found between each window. Above the 7th floor is a penthouse, of original construction. 1928"Shattered love prompts self-destruction" On May 7, 1928, Miss Leone Jenson, 22, apparently heartbroken from the lost love of a bell boy at a nearby hotel, ended her life by jumping off the roof of the seven story Hotel San Carlos - garbed in a smart evening gown, perfect for an evening of dancing. Since her death, sightings have been reported by witnesses who believe to have seen the white cloud of a woman's figure, accompanied by unexplainable breezes. "Youthful spirit continues for Phoenix landmark" There are confirmed reports that the ghosts of three young boys have been heard running through the halls of the San Carlos. The unexplained sounds of children laughing and running could be the ghostly presence from the first elementary schoolhouse located in Phoenix, where the hotel now sits. Furthermore, The San Carlos water well, originally built for the schoolhouse in 1874 and still operating in the hotel's basement, is believed to be the center of a countercurrent. Native Americans used the ground and underlying water sources as a site for worshipping the God of learning. Consequently, guests visiting the San Carlos claim to feel the spiritual aura of the historic water flow. 1955 "San Carlos renewed" In 1955 the building underwent remodeling. A swimming pool was added on the existing 3rd floor sundeck and the original storefront canopy was replaced. Additionally, the building was resurfaced. 1991 "Symington hails Hotel San Carlos Day" In 1991, Governor Fife Symington proclaimed April 30th as "San Carlos Day." The proclamation recognized the importance of the San Carlos as the only property in Phoenix selected to join the prestigious Historic Hotels of America, an exclusive affiliation based on historical character, architectural quality and the outstanding preservation efforts made by owners who are dedicated to maintaining historic integrity. 1993 "Star Walk commemorates San Carlos 'Superstar History'" To commemorate the hotel's 65th anniversary in March 1993, the "San Carlos Hollywood Star Walk" was inlaid on both the Central and Monroe sidewalks in front of the hotel with the names of famous movie stars and big band leaders who occupied the hotel while playing at the palace West Theater or the Riverside Ballroom. In addition, each floor and suite of the hotel was named in honor of the famous visitors. 1999 "Hotel preserves eloquent yesterday and surges into the 21st century" Today, the Hotel San Carlos retains the original fabric and elements. The lobby contains the original ornate wall detail, paneling and recessed ceiling coffers. The original Austrian crystal chandeliers, sconces, and mirrors were returned. One of the two original attendant-operated elevator cars still functions on its original manual controllers. Both cars are faced with the original copper-clad doors. Upstairs, corridors, suits, and even toilets rooms, contain the original layout, electrical and plumbing fixtures (including ice water spigots) as well as decorative panel doors and molding. Most of the original woodwork and trim is intact. As the only historic hotel still operating downtown, the Hotel San Carlos plays a major role in the growth of Phoenix's future by preserving its link to the past. We invite you to experience "the courtesies of a gentler era."
109 rooms + 12 suites Rooms
Bistro San Carlo Mc Caffrey´s Irish Pub and Restaurant Purple Cow Deli, light meals and entertainment
rooftop pool and sundeck,
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Our Select Member Hotel

San Carlos
Country: USA
City: Phoenix
Opening date: 1928, March 20

Note from the Host

General Manager Roger Marlin


202 North Central Ave.
AZ 85004 USA, Phoenix

Tel: +1 602 253 4121
Fax: +1 602 253 6668

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