The Weatherford Hotel, found in the mountain city of Flagstaff, Arizona, served as a stop along the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in the late-nineteenth century. Boosters realized that increased traffic was an opportunity to sell supplies and entertainment.
Originally from Weatherford, Texas, John Weatherford traveled to Flagstaff in 1882 as a merchant hoping to sell goods to those who came through the town. By 1887, Weatherford became Justice of the Peace and a prominent member of local society. His brother, P.R. Weatherford, was also an entrepreneur who worked as a clerk for the Babbitts, a prominent ranching and merchant family. The Weatherford brothers’ first idea was to build a general store, but after the Babbitt family bought them out, they discovered a different way to contribute to the growing town: opening a hotel. The Weatherford Hotel had its grand opening on January 1, 1900.
The Weatherford Hotel’s architecture has gone through some physical transformations since its opening day. The hotel is made of brick and faced with local red sandstone due to a city ordinance passed in 1897 after a series of bad fires. The building’s original roof line was modeled after the Greek revival style with a denticulated cornice (the detailed molding along the exterior) and two pediments (an area supported by columns) that were fashionable in the early to late nineteenth century. In its earliest days, the ground floor contained a general store and storage room. The second floor had a parlor and eight bedrooms and one shared bath. The Weatherfords built an additional section to the southwest side of the building in 1899 and a sidewalk in 1915, and these renovations helped keep the hotel appealing to guests. The owners continued building guest rooms to accommodate more visitors as the population of travelers grew.
Between the 1920s and the 1970s, the hotel declined after multiple fires damaged the facility. For a time, Henry Taylor and Sam leased the hotel from the Babbitt family to house and rehabilitate state psychiatric patients, and they bought the building in 1975. In the 1980s, the hotel was used as a youth hostel. Taylor said he “bought the hotel with the vision that downtown would come back.” What he meant was similar to the Weatherfords’ original vision to help the town grow. Taylor saved the building from demolition and restored the building to restore it as a hotel.
Today, the hotel’s structure is the result of the owners’ ambitions to revitalize Flagstaff’s historic district. However, the purpose of the hotel is not only to embody a piece of the past, but also to serve the present, as the hotel still functions as a social setting. On New Year’s Eve, the town of Flagstaff comes out to witness the hotel’s giant pinecone, lit with LED lights, drop once the clock strikes twelve. Even without a holiday, locals and visitors can go to any of the three pubs inside the building (Charly’s, the Zane Grey Ballroom, and the Gopher Hole).