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  • Hotel El Capitan – Van Horn, Texas

    Hotel El Capitan
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  • El Paso High School – El Paso, Texas

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Hotel El Capitan
Van Horn, Texas


Description: Hotel El Capitan
Other Names: Van Horn State Bank
Address:  100 E. Broadway U. S. Highway 80, Interstate 10, Van Horn, Culbertson County, Texas,
Type: hotel
Original Client: Gateway Chain Hotels
Historic Inventory:
Date: the opening of the hotel was July 10, 1930
Condition: extant; restored

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost
Contractors: R.E McKee ( received contact on October 22, 1929)
Dimensions and Orientation: 2 stories, 162 feet across x 102 feet deep
Budget/Cost: $180,000

Foundation: probably concrete
Wall Materials: stuccoed
Roofing Materials: flat
Other Materials Used: wood beams
Remodeling and Additions: converted to bank and offices; the coffee shop, East, has been converted to a retail area.

Present Owner: Van Horn State Bank, 2012 Joe Duncan
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 570, photograph of rendering of proposed front elevation; Ponsford 546, photograph of enlargement of entrance block from the same; no other drawings are known to exist.
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Bradt 103, postcard; Aultman 584, birds-eye view of Van Horn with El Capitan in the center.

Bibliography: (1)El Paso Herald on July 4, 1930. The article speaks that the furniture was purchased by J.B. Blaugrund president of the American Furniture Company in El Paso. The furniture was specially designed for the hotel.
(2)El Paso Herald on July 7, 1930 speaks of the opening of the hotel. There was a large barbecue for the town that day. On July 10 the was a formal banquet and ball.
(3)El Paso Herald January 31, 1930. An newspaper ad by Reynolds Electric Company stating the PHILCO radio receivers were used in the hotel
(4) El Paso Evening Post, June 27, 1930 page 2 speaks of the motorcades for the opening

Remarks: Van Horn, before the coming of the Hotel El Capitan, was little more than a scattered group of filling stations and dingy little business houses and restaurants. The main street faced the railroad. The region was not very attractive to passing tourist. When the Gateway hotel chain picked this location, it was a half -block off the main street, the side nearest town and on an alley.

In 1929, as the new hotel began going up – a beautiful and commodious structure of Pueblo architecture – the whole town caught the inspiration of a rebirth. The Broadway of American was rerouted down that alley, the one-time dumping ground for village refuge now had become a widened and paved main street. The town’s main block of business houses began to remodel their fronts facades into the Pueblo architecture style.

The opening of the El Capitan hotel included two motorcades of important Texas businessmen. One motorcade from Houston and San Antonio came over highway No 90. The other motorcade from Dallas and Ft. Worth over the Broadway America highway. The motorcades came to inspect the two state parks. Davis and Guadalupe mountains. Governor Dan Moody headed the motorcade from Houston to Van Horn.

The Hotel El Capitan was built by the Gateway Hotel Chain, led by Charles Bassett. The hotel was designed by architect Henry Trost and constructed by McKee Construction Company. The cost for the building $200,000.

Ponsford 570 shows a proposed hotel three times larger than was built. Only the main block in the right of the rendering was built. The proposed hotel and bank building would have occupied two city blocks on a well-travelled road. Together, they would have provided the traveller with a breath-taking ensemble of Pueblo revival design. A garage attendant across the street from El Capitan told us that people stop three or four times a day to take pictures of that building.

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990