Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

A faceless historic building in downtown Phoenix - Steinegger's 1889

About a half-block east of Central Avenue, on Monroe, is one of the oldest buildings in Phoenix, Arizona. It was built as Steinegger's Lodge in 1889, and has also gone by the name of the Alamo, the St. Francis Hotel and Apartments, and since 1930 it's been the Golden West Hotel. It's been boarded up and faceless for years, as you can see, but it's still there, which is remarkable for a town like Phoenix which tends to bulldoze historic buildings all of the time.

From the front there's really nothing to see, it's just an absolute blank. But if you look at it from an angle, you can see a little bit of history. See the bricks? See the old-time arch above the window on the side? See the shape of the roofline? It's still there.

I've never been in that building, and my memories of seeing it from a distance in the 1990s are that it was pretty awful. It was a "flophouse" - a place where alcohol was served, and the drunks (there's no reason here for me to be delicate) could sleep it off, or at least try to. I remember the clientele of the Golden West, who enjoyed the alcoholic beverages of Newman's, would often relieve themselves in front of the building, or sleep on the sidewalk. I worked right across the street, at Bank One, in what is now Chase Tower, and it was horrible to see.

As the St. Francis Hotel and Apartments in 1912.

As the Golden West Hotel in the 1930s.

So when I started finding old photos of what it used to be, I was very surprised. Sure, it fell into disrepair, like most of downtown Phoenix did, but I'd like to see it saved. I've found some images that show it with a nice porch out front, and some attractive architectural details. That would be nice to see again.

I never thought that the Golden West Hotel would ever be described as quaint, and worth preserving and restoring, but now I do. I hope it happens.

Description of Steinegger's from the Register of Historic Places nomination form.

Image at the top of this post: The boarded up Golden West Hotel as of December of 2017, just east of the Hilton Garden Inn, on Monroe and Central Avenue. Photo by Mick Welsh, used with permission.

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