Historic Gadsden Hotel in danger of closing

Historic Gadsden Hotel in danger of closing
(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)
Hartman Brekhus. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Hartman Brekhus. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A historic hotel in southern Arizona could soon be closing its doors for good.

Gadsden Hotel in downtown Douglas is known for its extravagance. It's been features in movies and ghost hunting TV shows.

But now, the 109-year-old hotel is up for sale.

If it doesn't sell soon, the owner says he can't keep it open.

The hotel's owner, Hartman Brekhus is turning 93 years old next month.

He and his wife bought the hotel in 1988. She has since passed away, and Brehkus' health is declining.

Robin Brekhus, his daughter-in-law and former manager of the hotel, has been appointed as spokeswoman for the family.

"I don't think I know anybody who doesn't have some memory of the Gadsden. Whether it's a wedding or a prom or a quincenera," she said.

People who live in Douglas say it will be a shame if this place closes.

It's even on the National Register of Historic Places.

Michael Gomez, the former mayor of Douglas, said the Gadsden is a main anchor for downtown.

"I don't know what's going to happen if they shut it down. It would probably be a dust - full of dust - building and that's the second biggest thing in G Avenue for Douglas," he said.

Those who've been inside the Gadsden know the lobby is breathtaking.

History is etched in the walls of the hotel.

A massive 42 ft. Tiffany & Co. stain glass mural lines the mezzanine and the original marble staircase - a focal point for the lobby.

At the front desk, skeleton room keys are still hanging.

An old-fashioned elevator is still running to the five floors of the hotel.

Adam Carrasco, the hotel's general manager, said he remembers running around the lobby as a young kid.

"Still to this day I walk in here and look around and appreciate the beauty and the detail of this hotel, and it's just sad to think about the doors closing and nobody walking in and out like they do every day," he said.

Notable guests such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart, and nearly every Arizona governor have stayed at the Gadsden.

John Dillinger stayed at the hotel the night before he was captured in Tucson.

Frank Zepeda, a long time Douglas resident, said he'd like to see something done with the building.

"It's a sad thing that the Gadsden would go by the wayside. I don't know maybe they could make it into apartment buildings for the elderly or I don't know it's just hard to say what can be done," he said.

Robin Brekhus lives in Douglas and said she's willing to show interested buyers around and share history of the Hotel.

"The sky's the limit really, apartments, assisted living, condominiums, there's many things that I think that could be done," she said.

Right now the hotel is only renting out 54 of the 160 rooms. The rest are down for maintenance.

If the Gadsden closes, 14 hotel employees and 10 businesses that currently rent space and their employees would also have to find a new home.

The Brekhus family says right now there's no asking price, they are willing to consider any and all offers.

They can be reached at 520-234-3901.

For more information on Gadsden Hotel, click here: http://bit.ly/2dthGjS

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