History of the Weatherford Block, Flagstaff, Arizona…

Have you ever stepped into a place where you felt like you’ve been there before, yet you know it’s impossible?  I experienced that at the Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona.

I just got home from the Romance Writers of America annual conference in Anaheim, California. We had a great trip and enjoyed meeting many of my favorite authors.  I was fortunate enough to travel with fellow Filly, Linda Broday, and one of our frequent guests, Jodi Thomas.  We had a ball.  On the first night we stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona, and had dinner in one of the original hotels … the Weatherford. Many of you know that we’re from the Texas Panhandle and there’s a town in North Texas named Weatherford, so my first comment was “Wonder if this has any connection to Weatherford, Texas?”

 To my surprise, I learned the hotel was originally built by a native of Weatherford, Texas.It’s a unique building, but unlike many early frontier structures it is made of stone and brick with a stucco façade.  But there is a reason.  Like most frontier towns built of wood, disastrous fires plagued early Flagstaff. After a particularly bad series of blazes in 1897, the city passed an ordinance requiring all buildings in the downtown business area to be built of brick, stone or iron. Among the new buildings appearing in 1898 was the Weatherford Hotel, built by John W. Weatherford (1859-1934) and yes he was a native of the North Texas town of Weatherford but not the founder.  The original structure housed a general store on the first floor and the Weatherford family upstairs.

In March 1899, Weatherford began construction of a brick three-story hotel addition, with a grand opening on New Year’s Day 1900. For years, the Weatherford Hotel was the most prominent hotel in Flagstaff, entertaining guests such as artist Thomas Moran, publisher William Randolph Hearst, and writer Zane Grey. Grey’s famous novel “The Call of the Canyon” was written in the now Zane Grey Ballroom on the third floor.     

A beautiful sunroom occupied part of the top floor and was used for dances and parties, while numerous civic groups engaged the downstairs.  A three-sided balcony, visible in the 1905 photograph hanging in the hotel was damaged by fire and removed in 1929, along with the original cupola. At various times, the hotel housed a restaurant, theater, and billiard hall and radio station.

When transcontinental telephone service first reached Flagstaff about 1910, a small brick building with a three-bay façade of red Coconino sandstone was erected south of the Weatherford to serve the telephone company, becoming part of the “Weatherford Block”.  The building served its original purpose until around the 1930’s when it underwent the first of two modernizations.  The sandstone façade was resurfaced with stucco in a modified art-deco style, and in the 1950’s aluminum siding was added. It was known for some years as the “Le Brea Café”, an establishment whose character does not appear to have elicited any significant historic recollection. 

Henry Taylor, the present owner, purchased the hotel in 1975 in an attempt to keep it from being demolished, at a time when the downtown area was in an acute state of disrepair and decline.  Today, one would not believe the area could have ever been in that condition.  Since then, Henry and his wife Pamela (Sam) have been continually renovating the structure, with the goal of restoring the hotel to its original grandeur.

 The café façade renovation completed in 1995 restored the appearance of the original 1909 Telephone Exchange. The building is beautiful with a simple elegance and casual ambience after it was returned to the reminiscent of Flagstaff at its turn of the century heyday. 

Have you ever felt like you stepped back into time when you visited a place? 

I will give away a copy of Give Me a Texas Outlaw, to one person who leaves a comment today. 


+ posts

21 thoughts on “History of the Weatherford Block, Flagstaff, Arizona…”

  1. What a beautiful building and yes I have had that feeling of ‘being here before’. I would love to visit the western states.

    Have a blessed day

  2. Phyliss, it was ao amazing meeting you and Linda and everybody else! Thanks for planning our luncheon.

    I’ve stepped back in time a time or two. Touring the (now dry-docked) liner Queen Mary was a wonderful visit in history. And the Menger Hotel in San Antonio.
    We’ve only blown through Flagstaff at night on our way to Sedona. We do plan to go back.

  3. I find myself stepping in time when I visit historical places. I am a genealogy nut and love to visit ancestor homesteads. I try to imagine how they lived and what everything looked like when they lived there.

  4. When I was growing up one of my best friends lived upstairs in the train depot. Her father was the depot man(can’t remember his official title). I spents many hours there. Several years ago in Montana I visited a restored depot at a museum town site and when I stepped on the stairs leading to the apartment, I felt that I should hollar “It’s just Connie!” and I expected Patti to appear at the top of the stairs!

  5. What a great experience Phyliss! I appreciate all the effort exerted by the people who love these old buildings and refuse to let them disappear. Has the interior also been restored?

  6. Yes I have had the feeling that I have been to a place before.

    I would love to visit the western States someday.

    I love the cover of your book!

  7. I was lucky enough to visit there a long time ago but I learned a lot from your blog. I think a trip to Haiti where we climbed a mountain (car and then horse) to The Citadel. A fort up amongst the clouds – it was amazing.

  8. I also have has the feeling of being to a place before, when I knew I have never been there. I love visiting places that make me feel like I have stepped back in time.

  9. I like when I visit a place and it feels so quaint and charming and like I’ve stepped into another era. Sometimes I don’t have to go far but drive into a section that is set back from the city and when I see well tended old houses and buildings I can easily imagine it there when it was first built twenty, thirty, fofty or more years ago.

  10. I love that building. I have felt that way when I visited some plantation houses that were used in the North and South movie series that I visited in South Carolina…

  11. I owe everybody an apology for being so late checking in today on comments. We didn’t come home from Anaheim until yesterday and it took us about 12 hours! We were two hours late out of Denver. First they had too much fuel, so we had to wait while the do whatever they do to get rid of excess fuel. Then we got out on the runway and sat and sat before they told us that there were storms and they were waiting on instructions on how to fly around them. We waited and wait, until the pilot told us … you guessed it … we’re now low on fuel, so we had to turn around and go back for more fuel. When they finished that we went back out to wait until the decided to send us back west to avoid the storms. Of course, our very nice flight attendants gave us our peanuts and Cheez-Its and we ate them, not realizing that we wouldn’t be getting anything to drink for about an hour. I was thirsty and various “unnamed” parts of my body was numb, but we got home 2 and a half hours late!!!!

    Sherry, thanks for dropping by. Although I live in the Panhandle of Texas, I really do love the western coast, but then I love the eastern. LOL

    Hi Tanya, I can only imagine how it’d feel to visit the Queen Mary. I enjoyed meeting you and all of the Fillies in Anaheim. It was fun, just wish we could have had a day to go to Disneyland or something besides lunch and meetings! Like you, I’ve breezed through Flagstaff but basically on I-40. I had no idea what a wonderful and fun town it is. They were having a Celtic event of some kind, so there were men running around with Scottish kilts on and we could hear bagpipe music outside our hotel room. It was a wonderful experience. Again, thanks to you both for dropping by and listening to my fussing about our long trip home! LOL Love, P

  12. Hi Amy, you must be a writer because I think that’s what all writers do, imagine what it was like “back then” and before we know it, we have a made up story about events that never happened. Then, if we write historicals, we have to add the “real” history. Thanks for dropping by. I did a little genealogy with my mother-in-law, and am really getting a hankering to do more now that we have records online, etc. In those days, she’d have to write a letter, once she got information from some printed list at the library, and wait weeks for one little nugget of information to fill in a blank. Have a great day. Hugs, P

  13. I live in Arizona and i have stayed in that old hotel in Flagstaff. There are a lot of old historic hotels in this state. One of the most famous is the Gadsen Hotel in Douglas built by a cattle baron. There is a beautiful large original stained glass window in it and a beautiful marble staircase. The old Copper Queen in Bisbee is unique. There are a lot of old buildings in Tombstone that are fun to visit.

  14. Connie, I love your story. As a matter of fact, my new contemporary romance “The Millionaire and the Texan” due out very soon, has my heroine leasing the old Rock Island Train Depot in my fictional town for an antique shop and all events take place! I love train depots and have a great one here in Amarillo–Santa Fe Depot. We visited one on our trip last week in Barstow where the Harvey Girls stayed. It was cool! Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, P

  15. Judy, good to see you here. I’m with you on how I appreciate the communities who preserve history for us and our children. I was so disappointed recently when we visited a well known historical western town and found the original buildings had been torn down and a parking lot replaced them. They had been rebuild a block over, but the whole town lost its flavor. The buildings looked like new buildings made to feel old, but just didn’t do the job. A sign designating where the original buildings were, just weren’t the same. Thanks for visiting with me today. Hugs, P

  16. Lori, thanks for the compliment about our cover. It’s one of our favorite. Thanks for stopping by. Hi Catslady, your experience in Haiti climbing a mountain to The Citadel sounds wonderful … for you and others who aren’t scared of heights. “A fort up amongst the clouds – it was amazing.” What a great quote! Hi Quilt Lady, glad you stopped by. It is a wonderful and tranquil experience to step back into time. Big Hugs to all you all, Phyliss

  17. It’s not the feeling I’ve been there before. It’s all the “others” who find me and follow me around. They don’t creep me out, as I make it a point to tell them to leave me alone. Outloud or under my breath, depending on who is around. I visited the Old Yuma Fort on the Quechan reservation in Yuma several years ago and finally had to walk outside because I was inundated with “others” trying to get my attention.
    My problem is, I dearly love these old buildings because of their history and some genealogy, too. I want to look around.
    Another place I could stay and visit for hours is the Museum at Alturas, California. Captain Jack’s Fort, etc. History oozzing out of the walls. I can make it for about an hour and have to go outside for air.
    Sorry, got carried away.

  18. Hi Na S, good to see you here. I understanding how you feel. I do the same thing sometimes. Hi Elizabeth. We did have a great trip. The building was beautiful. I just wished I’d had enough room in my blog to add some of the pictures of the inside of the building. And, to think Zane Grey wrote in the upper rooms! Kathleen, I visited the biggest sugar plantation in the south recently and I’m like you, if only the walls could talk, what a tale they’d tell. I love old plantations. And, the craziest thing, there was something in the original building that gave me the inspiration (more of an answer to a question I had) I needed to finish a series about the generation after the Civil War. Thanks for stopping by today. Hugs to all, Phyliss

  19. I love Flagstaff! My daughter went to college there and we always enjoyed visiting her during her 4 years there. We lived in Tucson, AZ at the time and going to Flagstaff was a treat! I wish I would have known about this hotel! I would have loved to have gone there. I have always loved history and always check out historical places wherever I go, in any state!

  20. Thanks, Mary J for dropping by. I spent some time in central California when my oldest daughter and her family lived there. I’m not familiar with the Museum at Alturas, California. Sounds very interesting. They now are back in Texas, but I’d love to see the museum. Hope you have a wonderful evening.

    Valri, it didn’t take us long to realize that Flagstaff is a college town. Sure wish you’d been able to go to the Weatherford Hotel, too. It has a ton of ambiance as well as larruping good food. Maybe you can go there some day.

    Everyone have a wonderful evening. Hugs, P

Comments are closed.