Casa Loma Building

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Location:  398 S. Mill Avenue 
Survey Number: HPS-192
Year Built: 1899
Architectural Style: Spanish Colonial Revival

The 1899 Casa Loma Building is significant as one of the two three-story buildings in constructed in Tempe prior to statehood; as the dominant focal point of the business district until after World War II; and as one of several originally Victorian style buildings downtown that were changed to Spanish Colonial Revival style in the 1920s.

Historically, the 1899 Casa Loma Building stands on the site of Tempe’s first hotel, which was constructed in 1888 of wood, but burned in 1894. Reconstructed in 1899, the hotel was the main attraction in Tempe for tourists and provided the best in overnight accommodations for the next forty years. Originally designed in a Victorian style the hotel was remodeled in 1927 in the popular Spanish Colonial Revival style. The brick walls were plastered with white stucco and a tile roof was added. This style enjoyed its greatest popularity between 1915 and 1931 and was often used for houses and small commercial buildings including Casa Loma and Laird and Dines in Tempe. In the 1950s, traffic on the several highways that converged on Mill Avenue to cross the Salt River was reaching carrying capacity. In 1960, the Arizona Highway Department modified Mill Avenue right-of-way and buildings for traffic flow and safety. Buildings along the right-of-way had windows on upper floors screened to protect traffic and the historic verandahs were removed from the Casa Loma Building to accommodate a wider right-of-way. Budget remodeling and deferred maintenance resulted in further reduction or removal of architectural features such as arcades, awnings, doors, and windows on downtown buildings and the resulting disinvestment of the 1950s and 1960s hit Mill Avenue hard. In 1981, the large metal screen on the Mill Avenue façade was removed, and in 1984, Casa Loma was rehabilitated and restored to its 1927 Spanish Colonial appearance.

Known from the outset as The Atwood Hotel (after its first manager, C.E. Atwood), its name was changed to Hotel Casa Loma in 1901, after Mr. Atwood was convicted on bogus check charges. The hotel is also associated with key citizens, including; George N. Gage and the Tempe Land & Improvement Company, W. J. Kingsbury, early owner of the hotel and prominent Tempe banker, and Frank Fogel, a Tempe rancher, landlord and businessman. Famous personalities stayed at the hotel, such as President William McKinley in 1901 and Buffalo Bill Cody in 1911.

The Hotel Casa Loma is a three-story building constructed of brick, frame, and stucco. Composed of two elements, the main three-story mass measures approximately 55 feet by 125 feet, with a one-story wing (50 ft. by 40 ft.) extending north along Mill Avenue. Occupying a prominent corner, the building faces south onto Fourth Street and east onto Mill Avenue. The overall image is one of bracketed post and beam stucco wall planes with grouped double-hung windows (6 lights over 1 light) surmounted by a combination hip and gable roof covered in metal simulating mission tiles. Original features include doors, casements, a three-story classically detailed staircase, and restored cupola.

The Casa Loma Building has been determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Casa Loma Building was classified Historic Eligible (HE) on May 5, 2001.

City of Tempe Community Development Department 3 Decades of Development.

Tempe History Museum Historic Property Survey HPS-192: Hotel Casa Loma