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Plaza Motor Hotel (Hilton)
El Paso, Texas


Description: Plaza Motor Hotel
Other Names: New Sheldon Hotel; Hilton Hotel
Address: triangle formed by North Oregon Street, Sheldon Court and Mills Avenue, El Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Type: hotel
Original Client: Conrad N. Hilton in 1930
Historic Inventory: National Register number 80004110
Date: 1929; opened November, 1930
Condition: extant, in use as hotel

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost; George Hodel, for assistance to Henry Trost in executing the lobby
Contractors: Robert E. McKee; B. Karpen & Bros., Chicago, furniture
Dimensions and Orientation: irregular hexagonal base, 130 feet at Oregon x 47.4 feet x 104 feet, 4 inches x 45 feet, 4 inches x 180 feet, 10 inches x 47.4 feet; two story base with 15 story shaft; Art Deco style
Architectural Style: Art Deco
$1,100,000, exclusive of site

Foundation: concrete
Wall Materials: brick with concrete piers
Roofing Materials: composition; green Spanish tile on penthouse
Other Materials Used: concrete floors; ornament: terra cotta, cast stone, and limestone
Remodeling and Additions: cocktail lounge added in 1936 (budget: $8,000, contractor: H. T. Ponsford & Sons); lobby paneled over, obscuring original details (date uncertain)

Present Owner: Paul Foster 2012
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: (L-22) 16 tissue sheets, undated; (A-10) 36 ink on linen sheets, including elevations, sections of lobby and details of ornament, Commission number 2819, dated December, 1929; (A-10) 6 tissue sheets, mostly street plans; (WW-11) 18 sheets of tissue, 3 sheets of blueprints, Commission number 2911, dated September 1936; Ponsford 268, photograph of rendering, substantially as built; Arizona State University, Luhrs Collection, photograph of drawing, Proposed New Sheldon.
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Aultman A5940, and 1930-1960 file, unnumbered; Bradt 106, postcard of the lobby.

Bibliography: (1) Hilton Firm to Construct Skyscraper, El Paso Post, October 5, 1929 (description, rendering of exterior, architect and contractor named, budget given)
(2) New Hilton Hotel Lobby Is Fairyland, El Paso Herald, July 18, 1930 (description and rendering of lobby)
(3) El Paso Evening Post, November 5, 1930, section 2, mainly devoted to the Hilton Hotel, including, on page 6: Indian Motif in Furniture, a description of the furniture by S. B. McDonald, art director of B. Karpen & Bros., Chicago, manufacturers of the furniture.
(4) Height, Color and Grandeur in Lobby, El Paso Times, November 7, 1930 (photograph of lobby and of exterior as part of skyline; report on role of Henry Trost in designing lobby, with collaboration of George Hodel; report on furniture)
(5) Thousands Throng New Hilton Here, El Paso Times, November 7, 1930 (report on opening)
(6) Hilton Hotel Receiver Asked, El Paso Times, August 9, 1933 (report on financial difficulties with bond payments)
(7) Grant Lounge Permit, El Paso Herald Post, September 25, 1936, page 1 (budget given, contractor named for new cocktail lounge)
(8) Kay Rothenberg, The El Paso Hilton, Pacific Coast Record, volume XXI, number 12 (March, 1931), front cover and pages [5]-10, description of the hotel; illustrations of lobby, private dining room, main dining room, mezzanine, coffee shop, and banquet room
(9) Frank Mangan, El Paso in Pictures (El Paso: The Press, 1971), pages 116 and 120 (photographs of the hotel under construction) and 126 (photograph of the exterior of the Hotel)
(10) Conrad N. Hilton, Be My Guest (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:Prentice Hall, Inc., 1957), pages 150-153, opening of hotel and public response
(11) Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht: Henry C. Trost: Architect of the Southwest (El Paso: El Paso Public Library Association, 1981) (page 77: mentioned; page 131: bibliographic note)
(12) Jay C. Henry, Trost and Trost in El Paso, “Texas Architect, volume XXXVII, number 2 (March April 1987), front cover and pages 34-39 (page 39: description and stylistic analysis)
(13) El Paso Herald, May 28, 1930. The article states that each room will be equipped with radio receiving set. Guests will have the choice of three stations each night. The loud speaker, according to Trost & Trost architects of the building, will be installed in the chandeliers in each guest room.
(14) El Paso  Evening Post, July 4, 1930 page 3 $175,000 For Furnishing of Hilton Hotel
(15) El Paso Herald Post, December 9, 1936 page 2 Cocktail Room Opens December 21
(16) El Paso Herald-Post, September 23, 1936 page 1

Remarks: The Hilton Hotel is one of three Trost & Trost art deco set-back skyscrapers. The other two are the Luhrs Tower Arizona of 1929 , and the Bassett Tower . The Proposed New Sheldon rendering in the Luhrs Collection shows an 18 story tower over a two story base with three 16 story wings. The outstanding two story Pueblo Revival lobby has been paneled over. J.B. Blaugrund, president of the American Furniture Company purchased $100,000 worth of the furniture. 

The El Paso Hilton was the eighth hotel opened by Hilton. Hilton resided in the hotel during the 1930’s. Hilton’s mother lived in the hotel until 1947.

In 1936, the Continental Room (cocktail room) open for business.The cost $20,000. H.T. Ponsford was the contractor.

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