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New life for the historic Gadsden Hotel in Douglas

Absolutely Arizona since 1907
Posted at 2:26 PM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-28 17:58:06-05

DOUGLAS, Ariz. — The Gadsden Hotel remains the center of the business community and a shining light for the city of Douglas.

It's hard to imagine what G Avenue would look like without the Gadsden, but it almost became reality.

"Preserving it and keeping history alive. That was our motivating factor," according to Anel Lopez.

Anel and her husband Florencio purchased the legendary hotel just over two years ago. According to Anel, they were driven to buy the Gadsden out of fear for its future.

"We had heard rumors that if they didn't find a buyer they were just going to close it," said Anel.

Florencio Lopez was born and raised in Douglas.

"When he found out that they were going to close it, he knew once they close the doors they'd never reopen them," explained Anel.

Now the Lopez's are in the middle of renovating Southeast Arizona's most opulent and historic hotel.

The Gadsden first opened in 1907, when Douglas was a bustling city because of the mining industry.

The history of the hotel is almost as grand as the lobby, which includes a 42 foot Tiffany-inspired glass mural.

"The artwork transforms throughout the day, as the sun is raising and the sun is setting," said Anel. "It's almost as though you're in the desert scene moving with it. It's just the most beautiful thing."

The glass mural is located at the top of the magnificent marble staircase. Gadsden lore says Poncho Villa rode his horse up these steps, and chipped the seventh one.

Anel says a guest stayed at the hotel a couple of years ago and gave credence to that story.

"Her grandmother would tell her the story when her grandfather was waiting on the roof on top of the hotel. They fought in the lobby with Poncho Villa. They were waiting for him. And he came through the lobby."

The Lopez's recently updated the Saddle and Spur Tavern. They did a complete remodel of The Coffee Shop.

The ride to the upper floors is in the original Otis Elevator from 1907. A tour given by Anel stopped on the unoccupied third floor, where the Gadsden runs tours for those not faint of heart.

The Gadsden's most famous room is 333. A female ghost has been known to turn on and off the lamp and the TV.

The next stop on the tour, all the way down.

"The basement was actually known back in the day for women, gambling and liquor," according to Anel.

And now the Lopez's are recreating the speakeasy in the basement, and hope to open it this spring.

The final stop is the front desk. You will still find real keys for the 22 rooms currently in use.

"If we were to add like the card readers it would be too modern," said Anel. "History is so important."

A history that makes The Gadsden Hotel Absolutely Arizona.