Mystery letter found inside wall at Hotel Congress

Historic discovery at Hotel Congress

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - They say, ‘If walls could talk.’ At the historic Hotel Congress, they are!

"What the heck was it doing in the wall?" Hotel Congress’ General Manager, Todd Hanley, is puzzled.

A construction worker, renovating a room in the 100-year-old hotel, stumbled upon a letter in the wall.

Renovations where letter was found (Source: Hotel Congress)
Renovations where letter was found (Source: Hotel Congress) (Source: Hotel Congress)

The postmark, dated 1934, caught Hanley’s attention. “The year of the fire and then you see the fire damage? Now I am really intrigued, and you have all of my senses really kicking in,” Hanley said.

Letter found inside wall at Hotel Congress (Source: Hotel Congress)
Letter found inside wall at Hotel Congress (Source: Hotel Congress) (Source: Hotel Congress)

Tucson historian Demion Clinco is equally as intrigued.

“The hotel has sort of these major touchstones in its history. It was built in 1918,” Clinco said. “In 1934, John Dillinger, the famous American bank robber, came to Tucson. Part of his gang was staying in the hotel and the hotel caught fire, and they escaped the fire and were ultimately apprehended and it was the only time Dillinger was apprehended by police was here in Tucson."

The fire destroyed the third floor of the hotel and despite all of the renovations since, the letter was never found…until now.

"You kind of get excited and you think maybe it’s something really, really important…a letter to John Dillinger, maybe his gang member. At the end of the day, it’s a story about somebody who stayed at Hotel Congress,” Hanley said.

The brittle letter’s ink is faint and the pages to appear to be burned.

Was the letter part of the famous 1934 fire?

Due to the fragility of the letter, Clinco recommended the hotel hand the letter off to a paper conservator who can hopefully, with today’s technology, reveal what time has faded. “It's a ton of mystery,” Hanley said. “Maybe we will shed a bit of light on the most important part of the mystery which is the letter itself and what is in it.”

For now, the 85-year-old mystery will have to remain just that, a mystery. “I don’t even know if I can go back to work now because I am so excited about this,” Hanley said.

What do you think the letter says?

Hotel Congress has made it into a contest. The winner will take home a $100 gift card to Hotel Congress.

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