San Marcos (Alternate Example)

    A year after the town of Chandler opened for official settlement in 1912, a new luxurious hotel opened.  Dr. Chandler named the San Marcos Hotel for Fray Marcos de Niza, the first European to enter the Salt River Valley nearly 400 years earlier.  The hotel opened with great fanfare, with Vice President Thomas Marshall in attendance, as well as prominent eastern and Californian businessmen.  The hotel promised the most modern efficiencies, such as 1500 incandescent light bulbs, telephones in every room, and more than 3 miles of copper wire.  When it opened in November 1913, the San Marcos hotel was the only electrified building in town.  On March 28, 1913, the Chandler Arizonan suggested that the room phones could be used by guests to “sit in your room with a view of the green valley before your eyes while you are talking to snow-covered Chicago or shivering New York.”  As it matured, the San Marcos with its luxuries became a favorite vacation spot of businessmen, celebrities and politicians from across the country.  Guests could rent a room or ultimately a bungalow for the ‘winter season’ to take advantage of activities, such as trips to Roosevelt Dam, horseback rides to the mountains, polo, and golf on Arizona’s first grass course.  Through subsequent owners, like John Quarty, the San Marcos remained a popular tourist destination.  Over its history, despite being shuttered for several years, the San Marcos Hotel has been and continues to be an important anchor for Chandler’s downtown business district.




    Dr. Chandler’s vision for the newly founded town of Chandler included a grand resort hotel where wealthy visitors could spend the winter months.  To make this hotel a reality, he hired Arthur Burnett Benton, a well known Los Angeles architect who specialized in Mission Revival architecture.  Benton was known for designing the Los Angeles YWCA, otherwise known as the Mary Andrews Clark Memorial Home, and the Mission Inn in Riverside, California.  Below is an architectural rendering of what Benton planned the San Marcos Hotel to look like.

    San Marcos Drawing.jpg

    The Construction Begins

    Excavation work on the San Marcos began prior to land sale day on May 17, 1912.  The excavation was started to show potential land purchasers that the hotel would be a reality.  The Los Angeles firm Sears & Gilbraith was the contractor hired to build the hotel.  But not long after work was begun, Chandler fired Sears & Gilbraith, and hired C.B. Weaver, another prominent Los Angeles contractor, to finish the building.  In the photo below, Dr. Chandler enjoys an ice cream cone on land sales day at the future site of the San Marcos Hotel while watching the excavation work.  Piles of dirt from the excavation are visible behind him.

    Fireproof Construction

    The plans for the San Marcos Hotel called for a fireproof building made out of reinforced concrete.  This required massive amounts of concrete, stone, and steel which was delivered from across the West.  The stone and concrete was delivered by the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Colorado Fuel and Iron Works in Pueblo, Colorado, was unable to keep up with the demand for steel, which led to major delays in construction.  Some materials came from local companies such as the Chandler Lumber Company and the Chandler Brick Yard.  The photo above shows the rock and concrete crushing machinery at work creating concrete.  Below, workers construct the distinctive ribbed ceiling of the hotel’s second floor.

    The Workers

    One hundred to one hundred fifty men were employed in constructing the hotel.  W. R. Hoag was the superintendent of construction, but resigned in October 1912 and was replace by Harry Jennings.  Frank Newman was the head of the plumbing crew; J. M. Stein was machinist and engineer; S. S. Bradley was electrician; and Joe Cashman was the general manager.  Some of the workers came from California, however Hoag expressed a preference for hiring local men to work for him.

    The Grand Opening

    The San Marcos Hotel opened for business with much fanfare and a grand opening celebration on November 22, 1913.  Five hundred people attended the opening gala, including Vice President Thomas Marshall, Arizona Governor George Hunt, and Representative Carl Hayden.

    The Robinsons: Manager And Author

    Grace Robinson (left) was hired as the first general manager of the San Marcos Hotel.  She had previously worked at the Ingleside Inn, the Salt River Valley’s first resort, and received training in hotel management at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California.  The Mission Inn was another of architect Benton’s projects.  While at the Mission Inn, Robinson observed Korean immigrants working at the hotel.  Consequently, she hired many Korean workers at the San Marcos.

    Will Robinson, Grace’s husband, assisted Grace in managing the San Marcos.  He also built the less expensive Suhwaro Hotel across the street from the San Marcos.  Will Robinson was a prolific Arizona author, writing several books and essays.

    The Amenities

    Behind the hotel an electrically lighted concourse stretched to the west.  Guests would enjoy the fine Arizona sunsets during after dinner walks.  An orange grove was planted in the grassy center of the concourse.  The above photo was taken shortly after the young orange trees had been planted.

    One of the most popular features of the new hotel was the grand court, a covered patio and veranda on the front of the building.  Here, hotel guests relax in rocking chairs and share the latest news and gossip.  Eastern visitors used the grand court extensively to enjoy Chandler’s spectacular winter weather.

    To maximize the temperate weather, each room in the hotel opened onto an outdoor patio or balcony.  In this image guests staying in rooms on the north side of the building enjoyed unobstructed views of the desert to the east and north of the hotel.

    Architect Arthur Burnett Benton designed a Japanese inspired tea house on the highest roof of the hotel.  The tea house offered guests a unique rooftop experience and beautiful views of the surrounding desert and distant mountains.

    When entering the hotel, guests were greeted by a palatial-sized lobby.  The large fireplace and the support columns were decorated with bricks made locally at the Chandler Brick Yard.  In this picture guests enjoy a sitting area off the lobby near the grand staircase.

    Comfortable wicker furniture was placed throughout the hotel.  This room was most likely the ladies writing room at the top of the stairs above the lobby.

    A reception room on the second floor of the hotel offered guests a sunny place to relax and visit with family and friends.

    The San Marcos guest rooms had many modern amenities.  Each room featured a private bath, electricity, and a private telephone line.  A two light chandelier hung over the dresser, and writing desks featured recessed lighting.

    Custom made chandeliers lit the luxurious dining room that welcomed guests for lavish meals.

    The hotel kitchen was located in the south building on Commonwealth Avenue and San Marcos Place.  The kitchen provided lavish meals for hotel guests using the most up to date culinary equipment.  Designers continued the distinctive ribbed ceiling in this building as well.

    The Bungalows

    Built in the 1910s and 1920s, the San Marcos bungalows offered guests the privacy of their own house during their stay at the hotel.  The bungalows were located on the concourse behind the hotel.  Lush landscaping, fountains and pools, and an orange grove made guests feel like they were in paradise.

    Golf At The San Marcos

    The San Marcos hotel boasted the first grass golf course in Arizona.  It was designed by Will Robinson.   In this photo, guest George Lewis tees off as a group of other guests looks on.  The original golf course was across the square from the hotel.  Later, in the 1920s, the golf course was moved to its present day location west of the bungalows behind the hotel.

    The Desert Inn

    San Marcos guests had many choices when it came to recreation.  In addition to the golf course there was a swimming pool and polo grounds.  The Desert Inn, shown in the above picture, was a destination for guests on horseback or in cars.  Located in what is now Ahwatukee, the Desert Inn was in open desert to the west of Chandler.  It offered the opportunity for wealthy guests to “rough it” in the desert by experiencing cowboy cooking, camping, and singing.

    John Quarty

    John Quarty was hired as general manager of the hotel in 1943, and with his debonair style quickly became the face of the San Marcos.  Despite hard times resulting from the Great Depression, Quarty led the hotel to regain its former glitz and glamour.  He quickly became the owner of the hotel and for over thirty years operated the hotel until his death in 1979.

    John Quarty fostered an environment at the hotel that drew Hollywood celebrities, powerful businessmen, and prominent politicians.  In this photo, Quarty (left), walks the grounds of the San Marcos with Errol Flynn and his new bride Nora Eddington.

    Fritz Werner

    Famous portrait artist Fritz Werner spent many winters at the San Marcos.  He delighted guests with his creative costumes at the hotel’s themed parties, and painted portraits for many of the guests as well as the local elite.
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