Westward Ho Hotel-1928
Phoenix, Arizona

Isn't that a gorgeous postcard? When it was issued (around the late 1930s) the new downtown post office had only been opened a few years -- but the venerable Westward Ho Hotel was already a decade old. Although we live in a historic district in the downtown Phoenix area, we had not been able to get into the hotel because it was a private business. Like so many other historic venues, the owners just did not get the value of its historic nature -- and that people like we would pay money to see close up the vintage style and charm. Finally, just a few months ago, the hotel started offering tours. As soon as we heard about it, we drove right over and said "Sign us up!"

As it looks today (April 2005).

Entering the lobby.

Original lobby tile.

Beams in one of the rooms off the lobby.

Stained-glass windows in the same room. Building through window is the post office shown in the postcard.

Original drinking fountain at opposite end of lobby.

Interior stairs. Note the tiles.

From the courtyard, the 1940s addition.

From the 1940s addition, the courtyard.

When the Westward Ho Hotel opened in downtown Phoenix, it was the tallest structure in the area. Phoenix was a small town -- progressive, but small owing to the killer summer heat. Water was relatively plentiful thanks to the completion (in 1912) of the Roosevelt Dam; and farming was a large part of life. Throughout the years, the Westward Ho saw its share of fame: radio star Jack Benny stayed there while doing radio shows during World War Two, Elizabeth Taylor had a suite, Paul Newman filmed the 1972 film "Pocket Money" there. It was visited by presidents, statesmen, and just plain folk. (You can see it in the opening sequence of the 1998 version of "Psycho.") During the general exodus of homes and jobs to the suburbs in the 1970s, the hotel began its inevitable decline, closing in 1979. Luckily, bucking the trend that once crowned Phoenix as the "tear it down and build a fast food restaurant" champion, the Westward Ho escaped demolition and was converted to senior housing in 1981. The new millennium brought with it an $8,000,000 remodel completed in late 2004.

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