The Royal Hotel has been a center for community and culture for Ogden since it first opened. Located just across the street from Ogden’s Union Station, the Royal Hotel has enjoyed visitors from many walks of life. Throughout its history, the hotel has created a legacy of bringing people together and celebrating cultural diversity within Ogden.
The Royal Hotel was originally built in 1914 as a place for blue collar railroad workers and travelers. Shops, cafes, and offices filled the front spaces of the street floor, and modestly priced hotel rooms were located on the second and third floors.
Sam (Saturnino Bengoechea) Maruri was born before February 6, 1894, in Amoroto, Spain. In 1912, he immigrated to Ogden, Utah. He married Maria Josefa Osa on February 1, 1922 in Ogden, Utah. Together they had at least three children. In the 1920s, the Maruri’s built a large brick building behind the Royal Hotel to house a court for the Basque game of Jai-alai. The court became an important social gathering place for the Basque population of Ogden to come and enjoy a game from their homeland. In 1935, Sam and Josepha took over management of the Royal Hotel and transformed it into a cultural gathering place for the Basque community. Basque employees of the local sheep industry would ship their products via the railroad and would often visit the Royal Hotel.
The Maruri’s also welcomed other minorities into their hotel. Many African American travelers and railroad workers struggled to find a place to stay due to segregation, so the Maruri’s Royal Hotel became a popular place to rest for minorities in the area. During the Great Depression, the Royal Hotel also became involved in Ogden’s bootlegging ring as a way to financially stay afloat.
The Maruri’s frequently used their earnings to help others struggling during the Depression by lending money or taking in local children from impoverished families. The Maruri’s kindness became so well known that one morning in 1942, the Maruri’s found an abandoned baby girl on their doorstep whom they affectionately named Jean Royal, after the Royal Hotel. The Maruri’s raised Jean until Social Services found a home for her.
In 1943, the Royal Hotel was sold to a widow named Leager V. Davis. Under Mrs. Davis's direction, the hotel continued to be a place for African American railroad workers to lodge between shifts. The hotel also served as an office for the Black military police during World War II. In a time when segregation made it difficult for railroad workers to find a place to stay for the night, Mrs. Davis’s hotel became a welcome stop. Due to Mrs. Davis's great involvement in the community, the hotel became a center for community activities and often hosted community events and meetings at the Royal Hotel.
Mrs. Davis died in 1973. In 1974 the Keir Company bought the hotel. After extensive renovations, they turned it into housing for the Problems Anonymous Action Group (PAAG). As a PAAG housing site, the Royal Hotel continues to serve the community by providing housing for Ogden community members who are less fortunate. The Royal is part of the Lower 25th Street Historic District and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.