Weatherford Hotel

Historic Building Fact Sheet

weatherford hotel flagstaff

The historic Weatherford Hotel stands on the southwest corner of Leroux Street and Aspen Avenue in Downtown Flagstaff. (Oct. 2017) Photo Credit: Rick Chase

Need to Know Info

Address 23 North Leroux Street
Flagstaff, Arizona
Coordinates35°11’54.4″N 111°38’56.6″W
Date Added to NRHPMarch 30, 1978

The Weatherford Hotel, established in 1897 by John W. Weatherford, is a historic landmark in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona that has undergone extensive renovations to restore its original grandeur after periods of decline.

Once the city’s most prominent hotel, hosting illustrious guests like Thomas Moran and Zane Grey who wrote his famous novel “The Call of the Canyon” there, the property also includes the former Telephone Exchange Building constructed around 1910.

Ongoing efforts by the current owners aim to further develop the hotel complex while preserving its architectural integrity and cultural significance.

In-Depth Story

The Weatherford Hotel: A Enduring Landmark in Downtown Flagstaff

The hotel’s origins can be traced back to the late 19th century, when disastrous fires plagued the frontier town of Flagstaff, like many other settlements of that era. In response to the recurring blazes, the city passed an ordinance in 1897, mandating that all buildings in the business district be constructed with brick, stone, or iron – a measure designed to prevent future catastrophic fires.

It was in this context that the Weatherford Hotel emerged in 1898 as one of the new buildings adhering to the city’s fire-resistant regulations. Constructed by John W. Weatherford himself, the original structure featured a general store on the first floor and living quarters for the Weatherford family upstairs. The stonework was executed by contractor Herman Deitzman, while G.B. Wilson handled the carpentry, and G.N. Baty was responsible for the painting.

The hotel’s footprint expanded significantly in 1899 when Weatherford embarked on the construction of a three-story brick addition. This ambitious project culminated in a grand opening on New Year’s Day, 1900, solidifying the Weatherford Hotel’s status as the most prominent accommodation in Flagstaff for years to come.

During its heyday, the Weatherford Hotel played host to a remarkable array of distinguished guests, including renowned artist Thomas Moran, publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, and celebrated author Zane Grey. It was in the recently renovated Zane Grey Ballroom on the third floor that Grey penned his famous novel, “The Call of the Canyon,” immersing himself in the rugged beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Beyond its illustrious clientele, the hotel boasted an array of amenities and features that catered to the needs and desires of its patrons. A sunroom occupied part of the top floor, serving as a lively venue for dances and parties, while numerous civic groups convened in the downstairs meeting spaces. Over the years, the hotel also housed a restaurant, theater, billiard hall, and even a radio station, making it a true hub of activity in the community.

Weatherford Hotel postcard

A postcard of the Weatherford Hotel — date unknown — but without the iconic balcony that burned in 1929. The balcony was rebuilt and restored in 1999.

One of the hotel’s most distinctive architectural elements was its three-sided balcony, visible in a 1905 photograph that hangs in the Zane Grey Ballroom. Sadly, this balcony was damaged by fire in 1929 and subsequently removed, along with the original cupola that once adorned the rooftop.

As the decades passed, the downtown area of Flagstaff fell into a state of disrepair and decline, putting the Weatherford Hotel’s future in jeopardy. However, in 1975, Henry Taylor stepped in to purchase the historic property, determined to prevent its demolition.

Since then, Henry and his wife, Pamela (Sam), have embarked on an ambitious renovation project, driven by the goal of restoring the hotel to its original grandeur. Their efforts have yielded remarkable results, including the renovation and reopening of the third-floor Zane Grey Ballroom in 1997, and the reconstruction of the wrap-around porches, which began in February 1999.

zane grey bar weatherford

The Zane Grey Bar exudes charm inside the Weatherford Hotel. (Nov. 2015) Photo Credit: Paul Gorbould

Another noteworthy element of the Weatherford Hotel complex is the former Telephone Exchange Building, constructed around 1910 to accommodate the arrival of transcontinental telephone service in Flagstaff. This small brick structure, with its three-bay facade of red Coconino sandstone, became part of the “Weatherford Block.”

While the building served its original purpose until at least the 1930s, it underwent two modernizations that obscured its historic charm. First, the sandstone facade was stuccoed over in a modified Art Deco style, and later, in the 1950s, aluminum siding was added. For a time, the building was known as the “Le Brea Cafe,” though its character failed to elicit significant historic recollection.

In 1995, however, a facade renovation endeavored to restore the appearance of the original 1909 Telephone Exchange. The result is the “Exchange Pub,” an establishment that exudes the elegant simplicity and casual ambiance reminiscent of Flagstaff’s early 20th-century heyday.

The renovation of the Weatherford Hotel continues to this day, with future plans to develop the basement area, which originally housed the Hotel Pub & Restaurant in 1900. This ongoing effort to preserve and revitalize the historic property is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Weatherford Hotel and its significance in the cultural fabric of Flagstaff.

As visitors and locals alike stroll through the downtown district, the Weatherford Hotel stands as a proud reminder of Flagstaff’s pioneering spirit and resilience. Its enduring presence is a living testament to the city’s rich history, and its ongoing renaissance ensures that this cherished landmark will continue to captivate and inspire for generations to come.

NRHP Reference #: 78000543