Amazing teapot and creamer from the historic, El Conquistador Hotel in Tucson, AZ. These rare pieces are from the 1940’s and have included a brief history and pictures of the historic hotel below:
The hotel opened in 1928 and was designed by M.I.T. graduate and University of Arizona professor Annie Graham Rockfellow, who worked under architect Henry O. Jaastad’s firm. Rockfellow went on to design the first buildings for the Desert Sanatorium (Tucson Medical Center) and many other houses and churches across Southern Arizona. It was built on 120-acres and had a pool, casitas, tennis courts, a riding stable, shuffleboard, barber shops, and a cocktail lounge. There were five total structures that made up the heart of the hotel: the main building, and four cottages. The main building was spacious and elaborate, and offered forty-six guest rooms. Each guest room contained “individual tiled baths, sun porches, a tea terrace, curio shop, dining room, kitchen, lobby, storerooms, and a servants’ dormitory”. It was referred to as being “as magnificent as a European monastery”, with a sixty-five foot tall bell tower covered by a copper dome. According to architecture critic Lawrence W. Cheek, “The original El Conquistador Hotel […] was one of old Tuscon’s glory.” He goes on to state that “for its time and place, it was irresistibly exotic” .
The history of this hotel begins in 1922, with the community recognizing the need for visitor accommodations. In order to satisfy this, the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club was developed with the purpose of attracting tourists to Tucson. One of the first items on their agenda was to build a first class hotel. After considering many different sites, they settled with a 120-acre plot of land that was graciously offered for free by Ben B. Matthews of the Urban Realty Co. and Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Roberts.
In order to get construction underway, people and businesses had the opportunity to purchase hotel stock. This raised approximately $300,000 to get the hotel construction started. However, construction was prematurely halted in the process due to running out of funds. Luckily, the United Hotel Co. restarted the constructions with a $325,000 bond. It finally opened in 1928 with 70 guest rooms.
Unfortunately, in 1935 the hotel went bankrupt. This was due to the Great Depression occurring almost exactly parallel to the opening of El Conquistador. A series of revenue gaps and seasonal closures led to its eventual bankruptcy.
In 1957, the property was sold and began sharing land with the early developing El Con Shopping Center (short for El Conquistador). Originally, the developers of the mall wanted the hotel to be integrated into the mall. However, as the mall expanded and the desire for a closed mall grew, it was clear the hotel had to go. In 1968 the hotel was demolished in order to make room for the El Con Mall that we see today.
Not all was lost in the demolition of the hotel. To this day, the El Conquistador Water Tower that was once a part of the hotel still stands across the street of East Broadway.