Santa Rita Hotel

Santa Rita Hotel 1904 to 2009 Broadway Blvd on the right, South 6th Ave on the left. This is the block demolished for the TEP building.

The history of the Santa Rita is well documented in the Wikipedia description so that there is no reason to repeat or rewrite that information. There are some nice postcard photographs of the hotel on this web page.

The hotel was the original home of the Mountain Oyster Club in 1948 that formed to provide a location for well to do ranch owners and their wives to meet in town and feel at home wearing their boots and Levi’s. They were located in the basement and moved ten years later when the hotel closed operations. Mountain Oyster Club still exist today and based on their series of homes are doing well.

In the 1980s and 1990s many locals were familiar with the building because of Suzana Davila’s Poca Cosa restaurant occupied one corner of the ground floor. The building looked a bit shabby then but was still used as apartments. Poca Cosa moved to its current location on Pennington Street in 2005, but saddly was closed due the COVID-19 caused depression.

Trost’s signature exaggerated overhanging eaves (image at top) and the filigree on the banisters on the floor above the lobby (below) are testimony of his design style.

7” salad plate resently aquired by R. Balash on Ebay

Nick Hall was a founding member of the Mountain Oyster Club and Manager of the Hotel

Addition notes can be seen at

In 1902 Architect Trost submitted plans for a Mission Revival Style hotel in downtown Tucson. The Santa Rita hotel occupied lots 2 and 3 in block 257, Military Plaza, being 124 feet on Broadway and 160 feet on Scott. It was to be built on land donated by the city and developer R.H. Raphel of Los Angeles to build the 'finest hotel'. However, Raphel call it quits after only two stories of the planned four stories had been completed. He then sold the uncompleted hotel to Charles M. Shannon of Clinton, Arizona. The hotel and its property were then deeded to the Santa Rita Company owned by Levi Manning, Julius Goldbaum and Federico Ronstadt. Completion of the hotel was carried on under the supervision of Manning, Epes Randolph and Fred Ronstadt.

The main entrance of the hotel opened to a courtyard with balconies overlooking the whole space of the entrance 80 feet by 32 depth. This entrance leaded to the rotunda which was 80×80 by 26 feet in height. The floor of the rotunda was tiled, as well as the ladies’ entrance, which came in off Broadway. To the left of the entrance were offices and to the south was the elevator. To the far south of the rotunda was a continuous balcony to the dining room, 40 by 65 feet in size, and finished in oak. Off the east side was the culinary department and to the north a cafe. Skylight provided light into the rotunda in addition to artificial light. The marble staircase lead to the second floor and staircases to the upper floors. Two fire escapes were located on the east side of the building. There was to be eight storerooms with four on the street.

Completed by the end of December 1903, the hotel was sold to L.J.F. Laeger for $200,000. The opening of the hotel was held on February 1, 1904. The hotel stood six stories high with two wings four stories high. On the sixth floor was a roof garden and dance hall. All the rooms included a telephone connection and a private bathroom.

In August of 1903, a city public policy was changed to help support the hotel. It had prohibited gambling near the hotel. However, in December of 1903 the City issued a license to the Santa Rita to have a bar and install a roulette wheel within the hotel. Thus, making the hotel a central location for drinking and gambling.

In 1917, the architectural firm of William and Alexander Curlett of Los Angeles was hired to construct a 160-room wing for the hotel in a Spanish Revival style.

L.J.F. Laeger stayed on and managed the hotel for 15 years. In the 1930s the hotel was owned by the Goodman family of Kansas City, Mo. Nick Hall managed it in the 1950s and gave it a western atmosphere.

On April 30, 1972 the Santa Rita closed its doors. It was demolished as part of a plan to redevelop the property. In 2009 the 1917 addition to the hotel was demolished by UniSource Energy Services and their subsidiary Tucson Electric Power.

The Santa Rita Hotel stands in history as a major investment in expansion of Tucson social development.