02. San Marcos Hotel

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    Of course, the showpiece of Dr. Chandler’s “City Beautiful” was the magnificent Hotel San Marcos.  Chandler envisioned a great desert getaway, which, of all his accomplishments, would become his proudest.  He named his resort after Fray Marcos De Niza, the Franciscan friar believed to have been the first European to explore the Salt River Valley.  Prominent California architect Arthur Burnett Benton, an expert on old Spanish missions, was brought in to design the building, which is still regarded as one of the finest pure examples of Mission Revival architecture to this day.  The local Chandler Brick Yard could barely keep up with the massive supply needed to construct the San Marcos.  The Hotel opened with great celebration November 22, 1913 and quickly established a reputation as one of the most luxurious resorts in the country.  The Hotel was billed as the place “where the summer spends the winter.”

    The San Marcos operated from October to May every year and attracted fame, wealth, and celebrity of all kinds.  It has had an impressive lineup of guest over the years, including Errol Flynn, former President Herbert Hoover, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford, Cher, Christian Dior, the Firestones, Major League Baseball’s first Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and French and British nobility alike.  It was home to the first grassed golf course in Arizona, the 100-acres being laid by Will Robinson, husband of first and longtime manager Grace Robinson.  The San Marcos also offered tennis, horseback riding, polo, tours by automobile, afternoon tea and shopping.

    Dr. Chandler sold the San Marcos in 1937 (during the Great Depression, mind you) for $1,000,000, and it has since changed hands several times.  It eventually was owned solely by John Quarty, the dapper gentleman who managed the property from the 1940s until his death in 1979, which forced the Hotel to close.  You’ll find a photograph of John Quarty on the grounds in 1943 with Errol Flynn on the back page of your photo guide.  Upon Quarty’s death, the grounds of the San Marcos sat vacant until 1987, when it was purchased, restored and reopened as a commercial hotel

     

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