Hotel San Carlos (Phoenix)

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Hotel San Carlos
Maruqee shot of Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix, Ariz..jpg
The Hotel San Carlos Marquee as seen from Central Avenue
General information
Location 202 N Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona, USA, 85004
Opening March 19, 1928
Hotel San Carlos
Hotel San Carlos - South East Corner - 2009-12-08.JPG
the Hotel San Carlos in Downtown Phoenix
Hotel San Carlos (Phoenix) is located in Arizona
Hotel San Carlos (Phoenix)
Hotel San Carlos (Phoenix) is located in the US
Hotel San Carlos (Phoenix)
Location 202 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
Coordinates 33°27′2″N 112°4′27″W / 33.45056°N 112.07417°W / 33.45056; -112.07417Coordinates: 33°27′2″N 112°4′27″W / 33.45056°N 112.07417°W / 33.45056; -112.07417
Area less than one acre
Built 1928
Architect Richie, George Whitecross; Kinnie & Westerhouse
Architectural style Renaissance
MPS Phoenix Commercial MRA (AD)
NRHP reference # 83003498[1]
Added to NRHP December 8, 1983

The Hotel San Carlos branch in Phoenix, Arizona, also known as San Carlos Hotel, is both an operating hotel and tourist site. It has been associated with ghost sightings. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1983 as San Carlos Hotel.[1] Hotel San Carlos is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation[2]


Many employees have said that they have seen ghosts at the hotel, the most commonly mentioned being that of Leone Jensen. This caused the Travel Channel to dedicate part of their show World Travels to the hotel. This feature on the hotel was premiered on Monday, January 19, 2004. Whether the ghost sighting theory is a promotional stunt or not is debatable.

Historical facts[edit]

The site where the hotel sits was the location of the first school in Phoenix. The four room adobe school was inaugurated in 1874. It was replaced with a larger structure in 1879. The school was enlarged several times but was condemned in 1916, with construction of a luxury hotel in mind. In addition, many area children died during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that attacked the United States.

In 1919, the land was bought by the Babbitt family (relatives of Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior and Arizona Governor, who intended to build a hotel. The San Carlos Hotel project was finally begun by Charles Harris and Dwight D. Heard who purchased the property from the Babbitts. Construction began in 1927. The hotel was designed by Nationally known architects in the Italian Renaissance style. The hotel was state of the art with air conditioning (the first in Phoenix), elevators, circulating chilled water in the rooms and steam heat. The hotel grand opening was on March 19, 1928. The hotel was built at a cost of nearly $850,000. Mr. Charles Harris was the co-owner and managing partner of the San Carlos. When Mr. Dwight Heard died in 1929 Mr. Harris took over full-time management of the San Carlos. He moved his family into the roof top bungalow or penthouse and worked diligently to keep the San Carlos Hotel open during the Great Depression. The hotel remained in the Harris Family until 1967 when Mr. Harris' widow, Elsie, sold the hotel to an investment group. The investment group was unsuccessful and in 1970 sold the San carlos to Mr. Gregory Melikian. Over the past 43 years Mr. Gregory Melikian and his family have owned, operated and lovningly restored the San Carlos Hotel to its original splendor. The Melikian Family are instrumental in saving many historic properties in Phoenix.

The hotel competed with the posh, nearby Westward Ho hotel, completed the following year, which was located on what once was Phoenix's first radio transmitter and whose list of clientele include such celebrities as Jack Dempsey and John F. Kennedy. The San Carlos had its share of celebrities such as Mae West, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Marilyn Monroe and Gene Autry.

On May 7, 1928, The Arizona Republic reported the death of Leone Jensen. The article's headline read "Pretty blonde jumps from (the) San Carlos (hotel) early today". Based on what she wrote on her death note, it could be assumed that the 22-year-old woman was physically abused by her boyfriend, a bellboy at the Westward Ho. Speculations have been made as to whether Jensen was pregnant and/or her boyfriend was having an affair with another hotel worker. Because of these theories, the way she died is also debated. While most evidence pointed to suicide, many have said that she could have been pushed off by her boyfriend or her boyfriend's other girlfriend.

Another ghost frequently mentioned by hotel employees is that of a little girl, possibly around six to nine years old, who is rumored to visit hotel rooms at night and sit crying. Ghost believers think she was probably one of the area children affected either by the school's closing or the flu epidemic.

On December 9, 2004, yet another death happened at this hotel, when an unidentified man jumped to his death from the hotel's roof.

The Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix, a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, underwent a $1,000,000 remodel in 2003. Work continues on this historic boutique hotel. The hotel faces stiff competition from such five-star hotels as The Phoenician, Arizona Biltmore Hotel the Ritz Carlton, many Hilton Hotels and the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. However, as downtown Phoenix continues its dramatic growth the Hotel San Carlos remains in the heart of downtown Phoenix, 6 blocks from Chase Field home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5 blocks from U.S. Airways Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns, and less than 3 blocks from the Dodge Theatre, Symphony Hall Phoenix, Orpheum Theatre, the Phoenix Convention Center and the Herberger Performing Arts Center.

The hotel can be briefly seen in the opening shot of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho, as the camera pans the then-skyline of downtown Phoenix.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Hotel San Carlos, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]