El Paso – September 2022 – Architecture

Our tour of El Paso architecture started in the lobby of the Hotel Paso del Norte, with an impressive stained glass ceiling.

A quiet Saturday morning was the perfect time to walk around downtown and check out some of the older buildings, starting with the exterior of the Hotel Paso del Norte.

The O.T. Bassett Tower was completed in the Art Deco style in 1930. Designed by Henry Trost late in his career, the building has recently been repurposed and is now an Aloft Hotel. It is nearly identical to the Luhr Tower in Phoenix.

The Martin Building was for 50 years the headquarters of the El Paso Electric Company, with a distinctive ‘USE ELECTRICITY’ sign on the roof. With the building’s remodel to condo’s, the old energy consuming sign has come down with a much more efficient LED sign proclaiming the new name ‘ ELECTRIC CITY’

The Union Bank Building at 401 East Main Street was completed in 2012, but retains the traditional Southwest look.

This classic building across the street from the San Jacinto Plaza was completed in 1926 as the Hotel Orndorff. It too was designed by Henry Trost.

From 1935 until 1970 it was known as the Hotel Cortez, a name that is retained for the ballroom spaces used for weddings. The rest of the building is now used for offices.

A few miles north of downtown is the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The entire campus has a consistent architectural look known as Bhutanese. This unusual approach is a result of the wife of the dean of the School of Mines (Kathleen Worrell) reading an article in the National Geographic Magazine in 1914 about this architectural style.

After a large fire that destroyed one of the main buildings, she convinced her husband to adopt this style, and for 100 years it has remained, and expanded – even on the exterior of the football stadium.

One of the dorms in the Bhutanese style.

Our last stop on the brief architectural tour of El Paso took us to the Manhattan Heights Historic District to check out this great little 1919 gas station.

Just across the street is this classic bungalow being protected by a robot.

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