This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Steinegger's Lodge, 1889, Phoenix, Arizona

If you're a serious Phoenix history buff, you know that Steinegger's Lodge, at 27 E. Monroe, built in 1889, is one of the oldest buildings in Phoenix. And even if you work, or live, downtown, you may have gone past it many times and not noticed it. And if you noticed it, like I did when I worked downtown in the '90s, you may have tried not to.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this building. On the one hand, I would like to see Phoenix not tear down all of its old buildings - there really aren't that many left from the 1800s, but to me, I just remember seeing it in the late 20th Century, when it was a boarding house (to put it nicely) and a flophouse (to put it not so nicely).

I worked at Bank One Center (now Chase Tower), right across the street from it. From from there we could see people sleeping on the sidewalks and doing, uh, other things, that shouldn't have been done in public. I have a friend who delivered beer to Newman's back in the '80s and the description is not pleasant, to say the least.

It's located between the Professional Building, which is now undergoing restoration to become a Hilton Hotel, and the parking garage on the corner of Monroe and 1st Street. Yeah, it's tiny. And you would never suspect that the building was as old as it is, as from the front the old brick has been completely covered up, and has been for many decades. But come around to the back of the building with me, through the alley.

This was once known as Melinda's Alley, running east and west between Adams and Monroe. When Steinegger's Lodge was new, there were houses, and small businesses, along this alley.

As of this writing, the bricks that I leaned on today in the photo are 126 years old. And for a city that considers anything built before the 1960s to be historic, that's pretty old. Yes, the windows are boarded up and scrawled with graffiti, but they are still there. When Steinegger's Lodge was new, Theodore Roosevelt wasn't the president yet, Geronimo had only surrendered four years earlier, and air conditioning meant opening the window and hoping for a breeze.

Part of why I love living in Phoenix is that it so thoroughly modern. I like its progressive attitude. And if Steinegger's needs to go away, I'll understand. Most people will never miss it, nor will they ever know it had been there. But like so much of Phoenix history, just because people don't know about it, doesn't mean it wasn't there.

View from Melinda's Alley, behind the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel (between Monroe and Adams and Central and 1st Street)

Ghost sign of the St. Francis Hotel & Apartments

As the Golden West in 1957

As the Golden West in the 1980s


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