The Hassayampa Inn has a history as colorful as its name, rooted in the 19th-century panorama of the Wild West. Apache for “the river that loses itself,” the Hassayampa River north of Prescott mysteriously sinks beneath the surface along its 100-mile journey. Likewise, the hotel built in 1927 was conceived as a retreat, where travelers would emerge refreshed and renewed.
The city of Prescott got its name during the Civil War, after gold was discovered along the banks of the Hassayampa River. President Lincoln decided to locate the capital of the newly established Arizona Territory in the mountainous area, and appointed a governor whose party chose a settlement along the pine-shaded banks of Granite Creek, by the Granite Dells.
The region was home to the indigenous Yavapai tribe, but Lincoln gave the townthe name of popular historian William Hickling Prescott. Soon a Territorial Governor’s mansion was built—now the Sharlot Hall Museum—and waves of Easterners streamed to Prescott in the decades that followed, in search of fortune and adventure. With the coming of the railroad in the 1880s, Prescott emerged into its heyday, a bustling center of commerce with a county courthouse that tried such famous criminals as those hunted by the Earp brothers and fellow lawman Doc Holliday. A popular stopover on the Western circuit, Prescott was known for its brothels, saloons, and opium dens around then-notorious Whiskey Row.
A different kind of visitor started arriving in the early 20th century as artists, writers, and celebrities took to the cultural adventure that was the Southwest. A fine hotel was needed, and civic leaders, recognizing the boon to the town’s image, encouraged citizens to buy shares in the project for $1 each. Over four hundred of them did, and their names are still commemorated on a wall outside the Hassayampa Inn’s Arizona Room.
Construction of the 78-room Hassayampa Hotel was completed in November 1927, and it opened with huge fanfare as “the Jewel of Yavapai County.” Built in traditional red brick—a style preferred by the Midwestern settlers of Prescott—the Hassayampa Hotel boasted an eclectic mix of Spanish Colonial Revival and Italianate features, topped with a bell tower, as designed by Southwest architect Henry Trost. The original elevator still runs from the 1927-era lobby, and period details like the hand-painted wood ceilings, etched glass, and embossed copper panels still delight sharp-eyed visitors.
Completely renovated in 1985, the restored and renamed Hassayampa Inn continues to host celebrities, politicians, and thousands of happy visitors every year, some of whom even come in hopes of spying the hotel’s most famous guest—the ghost of Faith Summers.