Hotel Weatherford is located at 23 North Leroux Street in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-779-1919 or visit www.weatherfordhotel.com.
© Tom Bean
Click image to view larger in separate window.
Hotel WeatherfordThere are plenty of reasons to visit Flagstaff this time of year. One of the best is the annual pinecone drop at the Weatherford.
By Robert Stieve
Ringing in the New Year means more than confetti, conga lines and cosmopolitans at the Hotel Weatherford in Flagstaff. All three are available, of course, but the main attraction is a massive pinecone, which drops from the sky at midnight on New Year's Eve, closing the book on another year and kicking off the anniversary of the historic hotel.
By Arizona standards, this place is old — the doors were opened to the public on January 1, 1900. The man who made it happen was John W. Weatherford, who also built one of the first roads to the top of the San Francisco Peaks. After rolling into town in the late 1800s, Weatherford took a look around and looked away. There weren't any options for a decent night's sleep. So, he started work on what he hoped would become a "civilized oasis in the Wild West." Mission accomplished.
According to an early review in The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff's local paper at the time, the Weatherford was "first class in every aspect." No doubt, that's why guys like William Randolph Hearst, Teddy Roosevelt and Nicholas Kramer have called it a night at the hotel. The list of notables is long, but they weren't all there for short visits.
Zane Grey, for example, spent several months at the hotel writing Call of the Canyon. It's a great book. What's more, his detailed descriptions of the interior of the hotel led modern-day renovators to some original fireplaces that had beencovered with plaster and hidden in the walls.
Another long-term resident was landscape artist Thomas Moran, who spent many nights at the hotel in the early 1900s. He was there working on his watercolors of Western landscapes. His artwork put food on his table, but it also helped persuade Congress to preserve the Grand Canyon as a national park. Good work, Tom.
A lot of good things have come out of the Weatherford, but like many old hotels in this country, it wasn't always a hotel. Over the years, the building has housed Flagstaff's first telephone exchange company, a number of restaurants, a theater, a radio station and a billiard hall. It's also survived fire and a planned demolition. Today, it's one of the few places where you can spend a night in downtown Flagstaff, and it's definitely worth a visit, especially if you can make time for a few beers on the second-floor balcony, which wraps around two sides of the building and overlooks Leroux Street.
The rooms are nice, too, in a historic kind of way. They're small, and the bathrooms are even smaller, but they're clean, the hot water is hot, and the cold water is cold. Quaint and cozy, that's what to expect when you lock your door.
The lobby, with its winding staircase and wooden phone booth, is along the same lines. When you walk in, you'll get an instant sense of stepping back in time. As you'll see, there's no mistaking the Weatherford for a Four Seasons, and on New Year's Eve, there's no mistaking Flagstaff for Times Square, but those are selling points.
Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to visit Flagstaff this time of year — the snowboarding, the skiing — but on December 31, the main event is the great pinecone drop.