Steinegger Lodging House, Historic Downtown Phoenix Hotel, Running Out of Time


Two unique late 19th-century buildings remain downtown within a few blocks of each other near East Monroe Street. One is the famous Rosson House, built in 1895, and the other is the Steinegger Lodging House, built in 1889.

The latter building provided an important service in its time, but its future remains uncertain.

In the late 1880s, newcomers to Phoenix created a demand for affordable temporary housing as Phoenix grew rapidly. One option to meet this demand, the Steinegger Lodging House, was the creation of Alexander Steinegger, an immigrant entrepreneur who arrived in Phoenix around 1870.

Around 1896, the Steinegger changed its name to Alamo House. We don’t know why, but it could be due to its “Mission-style parapet”. Frequent name changes for this property have occurred. In 1908, it was called Le Francis and offered furnished rooms.

Accommodation house Steinegger (1900) |  27 E. Monroe |  Also known as the Alamo Hotel, St. Francis Hotel, and Golden West Hotel.  Like other Victorian-era commercial buildings in Phoenix, its brick facade was modernized in the 1930s. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

More and more people came to Phoenix, which increased the need for additional temporary housing after the turn of the century. Steinegger responded in mid-1911 by increasing the capacity of The Francis. The new “modern” part had sixteen rooms; some were suites and some had private baths. There were also two public toilets for guests in rooms without facilities. The new portion even included a “summer rooftop dormitory”. With a new front came a new name: Le Saint-François.

During the 1920s, the South Pacific changed its route to pass through Phoenix. A larger station has been built; hotels such as the San Carlos, the Westward Ho, and the Arizona Biltmore were built to serve the growing tourism business. And the St. Francis Hotel changed its name again to the Golden West Hotel at the end of 1929.

The Golden West Hotel gained a new “neighbor” with the construction of the Professional Building in 1931. In 1934 the west side of the original building became the Golden West Buffet. In the mid-1930s, the front facade of the Golden West Hotel was “modernized”. A new entrance for the buffet has been installed. The front porch was removed, the brick front facade of the second floor was covered with stucco, and black Carrera glass was applied around the hall door and the central hall window. Ceramic tiles have been added to the front of the bar.

Claude Jones transformed the cafe into a cocktail bar in 1946, calling it the Jones Cocktail Lounge. Later it became Kissel’s Cocktail in 1963, then Newman’s Lounge in 1976. Newman’s Lounge remained in operation until October 2005.

Unfortunately, the Golden West Hotel gradually started to deteriorate as it could not compete with the larger surrounding hotels without major renovations. In the 1980s, the Golden West Hotel served passing travelers. The 26 old rooms “had been divided into 109 sleeping areas”. It continued to operate until 2004. Shortly after, the Steinegger descendants sold the building.

Sixteen years later, Phoenix’s oldest hotel building is empty with a “faux” siding that helps protect the original brick building. The Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission recently voted not to grant historic preservation protection for the building, leaving its future in question.

Donna Reiner is the co-author of three books on the history of Phoenix.

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