Hotel Monte Vista

Historic Building Fact Sheet

hotel monte vista historic building

With its prominent neon sign, the Hotel Monte Vista is one of the most recognizable buildings in downtown Flagstaff. (July 2016) Photo Credit: Trevor Huxham

Need to Know Info

Address100 North San Francisco Street
Flagstaff, Arizona
Coordinates35°11’53.2″N 111°38’50.7″W
Date Added to NRHP1973 (unconfirmed)

Completed in 1927 through community fundraising efforts, the Hotel Monte Vista was built incorporating existing structures and originally named the Community Hotel before a contest winner dubbed it Monte Vista.

It holds significance as one of the oldest hotels in Flagstaff, hosted many celebrities — including John Wayne — and was the site of an early radio station run by pioneering broadcaster Mary Costigan.

The hotel has accumulated an array of ghost stories and haunted folklore over the decades, adding to its mystique as a treasured landmark.

In-Depth Story

The Haunted History of Flagstaff’s Hotel Monte Vista

In the mid-1920s, as tourism was on the rise in Flagstaff, Arizona, local residents recognized the need for first-class accommodations to meet the growing demand. The existing hotels in the area were outdated and no longer met the standards of the time. In response to this need, a collective effort was launched to establish a new, modern hotel in the heart of Flagstaff.

The fundraising efforts began in April 1926, with prominent citizens investing in the project and the renowned novelist Zane Grey contributing a generous donation. Within a month, the total funds raised amounted to approximately $200,000, a substantial sum for that era. With the financial backing secured, ground was broken on June 8, 1926, marking the commencement of construction.

The construction plans for the 73-room hotel incorporated two existing structures: the local Post Office, which had been in operation from 1917 to 1927, and the building that housed the Coconino Sun newspaper company, now known as the Monte V Cocktail Lounge. This integration of historic elements into the new hotel design added a unique character to the property.

On New Year’s Day, 1927, the hotel opened its doors for business, initially named the Community Hotel in honor of the townspeople who contributed to its existence. However, the name “Monte Vista,” meaning “mountain view,” was ultimately chosen by a 12-year-old winner of a naming contest, perfectly capturing the hotel’s picturesque setting amidst the surrounding mountains.

For decades, the Monte Vista Hotel remained the longest publicly held commercial property in Arizona, a testament to the community’s enduring commitment to this landmark. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the hotel was sold to a private investor. Today, the Monte Vista stands as one of the oldest hotels in Flagstaff and is listed on the U.S. Registrar of Historic Places, a recognition of its historical significance and architectural value.

Beyond its role as a premier lodging destination, the Monte Vista Hotel also played a pivotal role in the early days of radio broadcasting in Flagstaff. In 1927, Mary Costigan, the second woman in the world to be granted a radio broadcasting license, hailing from Detroit, relocated to Flagstaff to assist her brother John and his business partner, John Weatherford, in running the Majestic Opera House (now the Orpheum).

After years of supporting the family business, Mary took over due to her brother’s declining health. She then established a 25-watt radio station backstage at the Majestic Opera House. In 1929, she moved the station, KFXY, to the Monte Vista Hotel, upgrading it to a powerful 100-watt station that aired three hours a day. The maiden broadcast from the hotel’s location drew an audience of over 400 residents, highlighting the excitement and anticipation surrounding this new technological advancement.

Today, the Hotel Monte Vista stands as a cherished landmark in the historic downtown district of Flagstaff. With 73 rooms and suites spread across three floors, the hotel has welcomed numerous famous guests over the years, including Hollywood legends such as John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Anthony Hopkins, Esther Williams, and Barbara Stanwyck.

The hotel’s historical significance extends beyond its architectural and cultural heritage. It has also been featured as a haunted location on the paranormal TV series “Most Terrifying Places,” which aired on the Travel Channel in 2019. While the veracity of these ghost stories cannot be confirmed, they have added an air of mystery and intrigue to the hotel’s lore.

One of the most well-known tales involves Room 305, where it is said that an old woman guest who stayed at the hotel for years never truly checked out. Her ghostly apparition has allegedly been spotted sitting in a rocking chair by the window, and inexplicably, the chair has been known to move on its own accord.

Other eerie encounters reported by staff and guests include the ghost of a bank robber greeting them with a cheerful “Good morning!,” the spirits of murdered prostitutes haunting Room 306, and the paranormal activity associated with the “Meat Man” in Room 220, a former boarder who allegedly hung raw meat from the chandelier before his untimely demise.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing ghost stories surrounds one of the hotel’s most famous guests, John Wayne. During his stay in Room 210, the legendary actor reported hearing a knock at the door followed by a call of “room service,” only to find no one there upon opening the door. Wayne encountered this phantom bellboy on more than one occasion, and staff members have also reported sightings of the ghostly figure roaming the halls.

While the truth behind these tales remains shrouded in mystery, they have undoubtedly contributed to the rich tapestry of the Monte Vista Hotel’s history and enduring allure.

As the Hotel Monte Vista continues to welcome guests from around the world, it stands as a testament to the resilience and vision of the Flagstaff community that rallied together nearly a century ago to create this unique treasure of Northern Arizona. Through its architectural heritage, cultural significance, and captivating lore, the Monte Vista Hotel remains an enduring landmark, inviting visitors to experience a piece of Flagstaff’s storied past while enjoying modern comforts and amenities.