Westward Ho (Phoenix)

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Westward Ho
Westward Ho Hotel.jpg
General information
TypeResidential (formerly Hotel, Office)
LocationPhoenix, Arizona
Coordinates33°27′17.9″N 112°4′25.82″W / 33.454972°N 112.0738389°W / 33.454972; -112.0738389
Construction started1927 [1]
OpenedDecember 15, 1928
Cost$2.5 million (estimate)[2]
Tip488 ft (149 m)
Antenna spire280
Roof208 ft (63 m)
Technical details
Floor count16
Design and construction
ArchitectFisher, Lake, and Traver
Main contractorJ. B. McNeil Company, 1928, Del E. Webb Construction Company, 1948
Westward Ho
Coordinates33°27′17.9″N 112°4′25.82″W / 33.454972°N 112.0738389°W / 33.454972; -112.0738389Coordinates: 33°27′17.9″N 112°4′25.82″W / 33.454972°N 112.0738389°W / 33.454972; -112.0738389
ArchitectH. Rafael Lake, Louis L. Dorr
Architectural styleMission/Spanish Revival, Other
MPSPhoenix Commercial MRA (AD)
NRHP reference #82002082[3]
Added to NRHPFebruary 19, 1982

The Westward Ho is a high-rise building in Phoenix, Arizona.[4] The 16-story building, which is 208 ft (63m) to the roof, held the title of tallest building in Arizona for over 30 years until the completion of the Meridian Bank Tower in 1960.

The building primarily served as a hotel from its grand opening in 1928 until its official closure on April 7, 1980.[5] The facility also housed several offices and restaurants, including one on the 16th floor called Top of the Ho. There were also several gathering rooms in the hotel, the Turquoise Room on the 2nd floor where many marriage receptions were held, and a large convention center adjacent to the main hotel which could seat 1,600 called the Thunderbird Room where many of Phoenix's big events took place.[6]

After the hotel closed in 1980, the new owners converted the building into a subsidized housing complex for the elderly and mobility impaired. Currently, the facility houses as many as 320 residents in 289 rooms which were recently renovated to make them more accessible for apartment residents.


Construction of the hotel was announced in spring 1927 under the originally planned name, Roosevelt Hotel.[1][7][8] The project was financed by Sutherlin-Barry & Company of New Orleans, Louisiana, for owner G. L. Johnson of Chicago, Illinois. The architectural team who designed the hotel were Fisher, Lake, and Traver, who had also designed the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California a few years before. The hotel was to be operated by Johnson's Pacific Hotel Company.[9] Work came to a halt in early 1928 with only 6-stories completed. In April, J. B. McNeil Company of Los Angeles, California, were awarded a contract to complete the hotel.[10][11]

In September 1928, Charles V. Bob of New York City purchased all issued and outstanding shares of the Pacific Hotel Company from G. L. Johnson, complete financing of the hotel was transferred to Bob, including construction, furnishings, and equipment.[2] August Heckscher loaned $275,000 to Bob prior to the purchase, in return for the loan, Bob pledged 10,000 shares of Pacific Hotel Company to Heckscher.[12] Following the transfer of ownership, the hotels future name was changed from Roosevelt to Westward Ho.[13] On September 20, Southwestern Supply Company of Phoenix was awarded a $100,000 contract for the heating and air-conditioning of Western Ho.[14] The hotel officially opened its doors on December 15, 1928.

According to librarian at the Sun City Museum developer Del Webb got his start hanging doors at the hotel during its construction.[15] His namesake company would go on to build an expansion to the hotel.

A 5-story annex was built west of the original structure by the Del E. Webb Construction Company in 1948.[16]

The 240 ft (73 m) steel tower and 40 ft (12 m) antenna on top of the building were erected in 1949 to broadcast Phoenix's first television station, KPHO-TV CBS-5.[17] In 1960, KPHO moved to its new transmitter on South Mountain. After use in the 1970s by KXTC 92.3 FM,[18] the antenna on Westward Ho now functions as a cell tower.[19]

In 1982, the National Register of Historic Places recognized the Westward Ho as a historic building. In 2003, the building was acquired by the Phoenix Preservation Partnership, a Rhode Island-based group of investors.

Hotel Westward Ho[edit]

The building has had quite a few owners in its time, beginning with G. L. Johnson in 1927, who sold it to Charles V. Bob and August Heckscher in 1928 while still under-construction. Heckscher took over full control of the Westward Ho in the early 1930s, and after many years of successful ownership died April 26, 1941, leaving his life's real estate to his wife Virginia Henry Curtiss, who died just a few months later. The hotel was put up for sale and eventually purchased by partners John B. Mills and R. H. Hawn of Federal Underwriters, Inc, Dallas, Texas in 1943.[12][20] They purchased the hotel without ever actually seeing it in person, persuaded by W. R. Wayland, president of the Westward Ho since 1937.[20][21] Wayland was already partnered with the two in their Texas hotel interests, working with their holding company Federal Underwriters, later Associated Federal Hotels, of which Mills was Chairman of the Board.[20] They already owned several other large hotels in Texas, including the former William Penn Hotel in Houston, Texas, which was demolished in 2006, Cliff Towers Hotel in Dallas, and the Hotel Hawn in Temple, Texas. There was no change in management or policy following the change of ownership.[20]

In December 1972, after nearly 30 years of ownership by the Mills family, the hotel was sold to Leisure Inns and Resorts Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio. In March, after encountering financial difficulties and a foreclosure notice, Leisure Inns sold the property to Minneapolis banker Deil Gustafson, owner of four banks in Minnesota and the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.[22][23][24]

In May 1975, management announced that the facility would no longer operate as a hotel and would become a retirement residence, in August, a foreclosure suit was filed against Gustafson by Republic National Life Insurance Company of Dallas, who claimed the owners were late on mortgage payments and were failing to operator as a hotel, part of an original agreement.[25][26] The Republic National Life Insurance Company purchased the hotel at a Maricopa County sheriff's auction in June 1976, under the terms that Gustafson had until December 10, 1976 to pay a $2,044,800 purchase price for the hotel and an approximate penalty of $180,000, if Gustafson failed to pay before the deadline the sheriffs office was to give Republic the deed. Hours before the deadline Gustafson got a hold of the deed through the Maricopa County Recorder's office and filed for protection from creditors under federal bankruptcy laws, the judge in the case blocked Maricopa County Sheriff's Office from handing the deed over. In March, Gustafson's lawyer and an attorney for Republic National came to an agreement that $2,504,908 was to be paid to Republic Nation by March 1, 1977 or the stay order on the Sheriffs office would be lifted and Republic National become new owner. The payment was not made and ownership of the Westward Ho was passed to Republic National Life Insurance Company on March 1, 1977.[27][28] In December 1977, the building was sold to Al and Marie Seidel and their partners, R&C Trust.[29]

Post hotel era[edit]

After a rough decade for the hotel, it was again sold in December 1977 to Al and Marie Seidel and their partners, Roger Rudin and Tom Caprino of R&C Trust and Westward Ho Associates with plans of using federal funding to turn Westward Ho into a home for the aged.[30] Renovations began mid-1980 to convert the former hotel into a federally-subsidised housing complex for the elderly, the first residents began moving in the following year.[5][29][31] The hotel is currently serving as housing for either the physically or mentally disabled.

The building was again thoroughly remodeled between 2003 and 2004 to improve the living conditions of the residents and restore the buildings historical facade. At an estimated cost of $9 million, window-mounted air-conditioners were removed and a new centralized air-conditioning unit was installed.[32] Additionally, approximately 450 exterior windows were replaced with replicas of the originals, the exterior was power washed, stucco was repaired, and the building was repainted to match its original beige color. Upgrades to the automatic fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems were also made.[17][33]


In popular culture[edit]

Contrary to popular belief, the Westward Ho does not appear in the opening sequence of the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. The clip fades in centered on Hotel San Carlos, which is located on the northwest corner of Central and Monroe. The former Arizona Bank Building (under-construction) can be seen just west of Hotel San Carlos, and Camelback Mountain can be seen in the background. When the camera pans south to the right you can see the Heard Building in the foreground with its antenna, which was often confused to be the Westward Ho antenna. Behind the Heard Building you can see the Professional Building.[34]

In the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake of Psycho, the camera zooms into a window on the 8th floor of the Westward Ho.

In the 1972 film Pocket Money, actor Paul Newman throws a television set off the 4th story balcony of a hotel room in the J wing of the Westward Ho. Lee Marvin and Strother Martin can also be seen inside the same hotel room. Other areas of the hotel used in the film included the lobby, patio, J Wing stair and walkways, and the hotel barber shop. In the film, the hotel was supposed to be located in Mexico.

In the 1956 film Bus Stop starring Marilyn Monroe, the parade scenes were filmed on Central Ave in front of the entrance.

Famous people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Winslow Daily Mail [Winslow, Arizona] Feb 16, 1927, page 6 - Phoenix - The actual construction of the new Roosevelt hotel will comence February 21.
  2. ^ a b "New York Man Takes Over New Roosevelt Hotel" Winslow Daily Mail [Winslow, Arizona] Sep 1, 1928, page 1
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  4. ^ "Service Men to Make 1500 Tags for Hotel". Prescott Evening Courier [Prescott, Arizona]. 17 November 1928. p. 3. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Westward Ho Closes". Kingman Daily Minor [Kingman, Arizona]. 7 April 1980. p. 7. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Up From The Ashes" (PDF). Arizona Gay News [Tucson, Arizona]. 16 December 1977. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 22, 2006.
  7. ^ "Weekly South-West News Items" The Bulletin [Casa Grande, Arizona] January 1, 1927, page 2
  8. ^ Winslow Daily Mail [Winslow, Arizona] May 19, 1927, page 4 - Phoenix - 16-story Roosevelt Hotel to be constructed here at cost of $1,200,000.
  9. ^ "New Roosevelt Hotel In Phoenix Uses Brass Pipe" Winslow Daily Mail [Winslow, Arizona] Aug 24, 1927, page 4
  10. ^ "To Resume Construction Of Roosevelt Hotel Soon" The Daily Arizona Silver Belt [Phoenix, Arizona] March 26, 1928
  11. ^ "Award Contract For Hotel At Phoenix" Winslow Daily Mail [Winslow, Arizona] Apr 29, 1928
  12. ^ a b "Kelly v. Kelly". Arizona Supreme Court. 15 July 1950. p. 70 Ariz Page 373. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  13. ^ Ford, George O. "The Builders" Arizona Independent Republic [Phoenix, Arizona] May 4, 1941, page 16
  14. ^ "Heating Contract" Winslow Daily Mail [Winslow, Arizona] September 20, 1928, page 3
  15. ^ "Del Webb | Arizona Highways". Arizona Highways. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  16. ^ "The Webb Spinner 1946-1949" (PDF).
  17. ^ a b "Westward Ho Renovations". The Orcutt Winslow Partnership. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  18. ^ "FCC History Card" (PDF). Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  19. ^ "KPHO Historical Timeline". KPHO Phoenix. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  20. ^ a b c d "Westward Ho Hotel Is Sold" Arizona Independent Republic [Phoenix, Arizona] November 16, 1943
  21. ^ Hotel Westward Ho Ad - Arizona Independent Republic [Phoenix, Arizona] November 20, 1937, (Section Five) Page Seven or page 127
  22. ^ Rayburn, Charles "Hotel Westward Ho Sold To Leisure Inn Resorts " Phoenix Gazette [Phoenix, Arizona] January 2, 1973
  23. ^ "Westward Ho, city landmark, is sold to Cleveland company" Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Arizona] January 3, 1973
  24. ^ "Banker Heads Westward Ho" Phoenix Gazette [Phoenix, Arizona] March 20, 1973
  25. ^ "Foreclosure Suit Filed Against Westward Ho" Yuma Daily Sun [Yuma, Arizona] August 24, 1975
  26. ^ "'Westward Ho' Hotel Goes To Mortgager" Kingman Daily Minor - September 4, 1975
  27. ^ "Firm To Get Westward Ho Unless $2.5 Million Is Paid" Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Arizona] March 3, 1977
  28. ^ "Hotel Will Go To Texas Firm" Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Arizona] March 9, 1977
  29. ^ a b "Westward Ho bought" The Prescott Courier [Prescott, Arizona] January 6, 1978
  30. ^ "Westward Ho Is Sold" Phoenix Gazette [Phoenix, Arizona] January 6, 1978
  31. ^ "Principals' backgrounds obscure" The Prescott Courier [Prescott, Arizona] Jan 12 1978
  32. ^ Sowers, Carol "Westward Ho's Redo Nearly Done" Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Arizona] March 4, 2004, page 3
  33. ^ "Westward Ho Retrofit & Remodel". D.L Norton General Contracting, Inc. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  34. ^ "Psycho hotel debate finally settled by panel of five experts in Phoenix". Daily News [Bowling Green, Kentucky]. 10 March 2002. p. 2C. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  35. ^ "Vice President of the United States Richard Milhous Nixon...in the Hotel Westward Ho". Arizona Memory Project - Arizona State Library. 15 October 1960. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  36. ^ "Remarks of the Vice President, Westward Ho Hotel, Thunderbird Room, Phoenix, AZ". University of California Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. 15 October 1960. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  37. ^ "The Gipper & the Westward Ho". arizonastatearchives.files.wordpress.com. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  38. ^ "Trip to Western States: Dinner in honor of Senator Carl Hayden in Phoenix, Arizona, 7:05PM". John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. 17 November 1961. p. 3. Retrieved 7 September 2013.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Luhrs Building
Tallest Building in Phoenix
208 ft (63m)
Succeeded by
Meridian Bank Tower