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 El Paisano Hotel
Marfa, Texas


Description:  El Paisano
Other Names: none
Address:  207 N. Highland Marfa, Presidio County, Texas
Type: hotel
Original Client: Southwestern Hotels, Inc; part of the Gateway Hotel Chain
Historic Inventory: National Register Number 78002973; also listed as a Texas Historic Landmark
Date: Opening June 30, 1930
Condition: extant

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost
Contractors: R.E. McKee
Dimensions and Orientation: U-shaped, 2 story with 1 story restaurant wing; faces South; approximate size: 187 feet across x 112 feet deep, original 72 rooms
Budget/Cost: $200,000

Foundation: probably concrete
Wall Materials: hollow brick, stuccoed
Roofing Materials: flat concrete with tar and composition; Spanish tile coping
Other Materials Used: cast stone ornament; a vernacular style building, with Spanish Colonial Revival
Remodeling and Additions: new individual balconies, iron gates, covered back porch and courtyard fountain; all rooms have been renovated. The swimming pool in 1950s

Present Owner: privately owned 2010- Joe & Lanna Duncan
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 559, photograph of rendering of Proposed Hotel, Ponsford 561, photograph of rendering of perspective view; Ponsford 560, photograph of rendering of East elevation. El Paso Public Library: (L-6) drawings on tissue, floor plans (drawings are for first floor and a typical floor); (N-30) study for, or variant on,  El Paisano labeled Proposed Hotel, with plans for two stories in pencil and red pencil on 2 tissue sheets (plans for a two-story U-shaped building with dimensions given as 187 feet deep x 112 feet across–sample rooms are detailed on each floor, showing a bath for each room; (N-36) study for El Paisano [no architect given] plans for an irregular U-shaped two story in pencil and red wash on 2 sheets of linen.
Location of Documentary Photographs: Sul Ross State University, Archives of the Big Bend: N.7.b.3/P1979.10, courtyard entrance; 1979.12/N.7.b.5, perspective view

Bibliography: (1)El Paso Times, June 9, 1991, Page 6B, Small town Texas hotels recall grandeur of ’20s.
(2) El Paso Herald June 30, 1930 page 10. The article speaks of the opening banquet and dance to the hotel
(3) El Paso Herald July 4, 1930 The article speaks of the specially designed furniture for the hotel. J.B. Blaugrund president of American Furniture in EL Paso.
(4) El Paso Herald, October 24, 1929 page 73

Remarks: (1) Ponsford 559 is presumed to be a preliminary study for  El Paisano as Marfa was not large enough to support two hotels. The proposal is nearly identical to the Val Verde of 1918-1919 , but has a somewhat more elaborate gable.
(2) Information on the remodeling was supplied in an interview with Marcos Pena, who had been employed by El Paisano for 16 years (April 14, 1988). Mr. Pena also stated that many of the changes had been made by Mrs. Mellan, who had used the hotel as her residence.
(3) The hotel was host to the cast and crew of Giant in 1956, when location shots were made in the area.
(4) In 1947 , Mr. Mallan who owned a steel mill in Ohio, intrigued with the hotel traveled to El Paso and brought the property from Bassett. Mrs. Mallan retained ownership until 1965. There was numerous owners until 1973 when the El Paisano Properties Owners and converted it into condominiums.
(5) In 1929, the Chamber of Commerce backed by the citizen of Marfa, put together a campaign for $18,000 to buy a lot to be donated to Bassett. Bassett in return asked the citizens to subscribe $35,00 work of stock in addition to the $18,00 lot donation. The stock was subscribed and plan moved forward.
(6) Hotel Paisano Gala Opening – June 28, 1930 – The lobby and banquet room of the new hotel – a beautiful $200,000 structure of Spanish architecture was lavishly decorated with flowers by local women of Marfa. Cattlemen from throughout Big Bend, residents from Fort Davis, Alpine and El Paso attended the event. The food served at the banquet was plentiful and delicious. A dance which followed lasted until 2AM.

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1991