TROST’S ARID AMERICA
The Hotel El Capitan opened in 1930 in Van Horn to serve travelers at the crossroads of west Texas tourism. Financed by El Pasoan Charles Bassett, the Hotel El Capitan is one of several grand hotels in the west Texas tradition designed by architect Henry Charles Trost. Trost, an architectural draftsman in Ohio and a designer of ornamental metal in Chicago, arrived in El Paso in 1903, bringing his interest in the Mission Revival-style of the period with him. He formed Trost and Trost, an architectural firm, with his brother and structural engineer Gustavus and proceeded to design and build hundreds of buildings throughout west Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. His designs, typically highlighting Mission and Pueblo Revival styles as well as touches of everything from Victorian to Art Deco, are considered some of the first to address building design for the desert, an approach Trost called “Arid America”. The Hotel El Capitan stands as an excellent example of Trost detailing, including a lobby of European tiling, stairwells of crafted wrought iron banisters, and exposed Spanish vigas supporting fourteen-foot ceilings. Twelve of the fifty-two rooms feature their own courtyard balconies, overlooking a central fountain amidst palm and olive trees. The renovations allowed installation of modern plumbing and conveniences like an elevator. Topping it all is an exact replica of the original sign, a red neon beacon twenty-five feet high that simply announces “Hotel El Capitan”.
Hotel El Capitan
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