June 25th, 2018

Your Travels: Yuma used to be for lovers

By Medicine Hat News on May 13, 2017.

SUBMITTED PHOTO LESLIE MALTIN The Hotel San Carlos was the first hotel in Yuma, Ariz., to have air conditioning. Rumour has it Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio honeymooned here in 1954. The hotel has since fallen into disrepair and these days is used for low income housing.

Leslie Maltin

If you’re ever in Yuma Arizona make sure you mosey on downtown tocheck out the historical and architectural marvel that is the Hotel San Carlos.

It was built in 1930 by the owners of the San Carlos of Phoenix as a couples retreat.

Yuma was then known as the “Wedding Capital” of the United States.There were about 20 wedding chapels and few hotels. In 1930 the cost of construction was $300,000, which paid for its incredible example of Art Deco design, 107 guest rooms, lobby, piano bar as well as a rooftop garden.

Unique at the time was its air conditioning system, making it Yuma’s first hotel to offer this convenience to it’s clients. Provided by awell dug deep enough into the earth to offer cold air that was intern piped into the rooms this system’s design was backed up by a 15-foot-high water cooler which was mounted atop the roof.

During the 1940s to ’50s Yuma became a popular location for Hollywood films. Hotel San Carlos developed a reputation as “Movie Star Central” with many top actors. John Wayne stories speak of him that after a night of heavy drinking in the hotel’s bar, he retrieved his horse from thecorral, marched through the lobby and after putting him inside the elevator took him and horse up to the rooftop garden so as to give his horse a bird’s eye view of Yuma.

Rumours also have it that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio honeymooned in room 512. Marilyn was a frequent guest on many occasions.

Unfortunately as times and habits changed the popularity of downtown Yuma changed and people stopped booking the hotel. It fell into disrepair and was vacant for many years.In the 1980s under city ownership the hotel once again reopened as living accommodations for low income housing and remains so today.

The Hotel San Carlos, listed on July 11, 2008, with the U.S. Registry of Historical Places, stands asan ambassador to the glory of art deco architecture that existed in the 1930s. Built to such high standards of construction the Hotel San Carlos will stand as a structure welcoming people for a much longer time to come.

Be sure to check out Hotel San Carlos, next time you’re in Yuma.

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