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Gadsden Hotel: history, legend and hauntings

Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 19:34:00-05
DOUGLAS, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The Gadsden Hotel, the tallest building in Douglas, AZ, also serves as a symbol of the town itself.
 
"Google 'Douglas, Arizona.' The first picture that comes up is the lobby," said General Manager Joshua Garcia.
 
The lobby is breath-taking, with Tiffany's stained glass, ornate gold moldings and a grand marble staircase.
 
Legend has it Pancho Villa rode his horse up the staircase. A chip on the seventh step is said to be from one of its hooves. 
 
"I get questions all the time, 'Did Pancho Villa come up this stairwell?' said Garcia. "Well, I can't say for sure but he was in the area."
 
Similar legends draw some of the people to the Gadsen, but for others, it's documented history.
 
"Number one attraction to a lot of people is to be able to feel like I lived in that time," said Garcia.
 
Stepping into the Gadsden feels like a step back in time. Guests receive actual keys to their room and the elevator is manually run by hotel employees. 
 
"A lot of people love the elevator because it's like, 'Oh wow, this is so unique,'" said Garcia.
 
Movie buffs are also drawn to the hotel to see the spot where some famous Western movies were filmed. Notables include 'The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean' with Paul Newman and 'Ruby Jean and Joe' with Tom Selleck.
 
"In the bar, 'Terminal Velocity' was filmed. Charlie Sheen sat in there." said Garcia.
 
Those bar walls are also lined with branding symbols from over the years. One of them is said to be John Wayne's. 
 
Ghost hunters are drawn to the Gadsden as well.
 
"We get a lot of visitors who want to come see our room 333," said Garcia of the room that is notoriously haunted.
 
The story that has circulated about room 333 is that a young boy, who fell out of the window and died, now haunts the room. People will pay to stay in the room that sits on an otherwise uninhabited floor of the hotel.
 
In fact, while the first two floors of the Gadsden are available to rent, they average only about five guests per night.
   
About four people rent space on the top two floors as apartments.
 
Still, Garcia says the hotel loses money each year. 
 
As the hotel's owner inches up in age, the hotel's future is questionable. Garcia said he does not believe the owner's children want to take over the business, so who will take over the hotel is yet to be seen.
 
"It has to be somebody who's involved and loves to be here because you're not going to get rich if you own the Gadsden, kind of situation. It's more of a labor of love," said Garcia.