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Did You Know: Steinegger Building Is Among Phoenix's Oldest Commercial Buildings

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, February 19, 2016 - 5:05pm
Updated: Sunday, February 21, 2016 - 10:02am
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
Steinegger Building is the short structure with the white facade. It’s barely noticeable because the building is nestled between two tall buildings across from Chase Bank on Monroe Street. When it first opened in the late 19th century it was known as the
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Steinegger Building once had a front porch. Today, the front of the structure is border up with a white facade. But the inside still has remnants of when it was first built, including the front staircase.

Despite the relatively young age of Phoenix, there is history here — and some of it is hidden in plain sight.

Walk through the heart of downtown Phoenix and you’ll see skyscrapers everywhere. But if you stop around Central Avenue and Monroe Street you’ll notice a two-floor structure in the middle of the block. That was once the Steinegger Building. Did you know this is among the oldest commercial buildings in Phoenix?

“We’re looking at the current appearance of the Steinegger Lodging House, which was built in 1890,” said Roger Brevoort, an architectural historian. 

We walked down Monroe Street to check out this boarded-up old building.

“In the 1890s when Phoenix was in its formative days and lots of people were coming to town, business was just getting started. The Steinegger Lodging House was a fairly prominent place to stay," said Brevoort.

Brevoort said the two-story structure was originally a late Victorian-era building named after its founder Alexander Steinegger. The lodge had about a dozen rooms between both floors. It also had porches in front and back. By 1911 the rear porch was eliminated, and the building was extended to double its size. It was sold several times after that and had a few names, including the Alamo Hotel and the St. Francis Hotel.

“By the 1950s it had gone from a rooming house to more of a transient house, and most people know it as the Golden West Hotel, which had a fairly seedy reputation in terms of housing lots of people,” Brevoort said.

In 2004 the hotel closed, and a year later the bar on the first floor shut down. Since then the place has been boarded up. The alleyway on the east end of the building is barricaded with a wall, but it is just low enough to see the details of the side brick wall.

“If you look a little further back, you can see this change in the roof line, and that was when the 1911 edition starts,” he said.

Brevoort said what’s inside is a walk back through time.

“There are a few vestiges of original details still in there. The central corridor form is still there, and then most interesting inside the 1890s staircase in the front, which has Victorian detailing, is still intact. And the 1911 staircase in the back, which is a very different staircase, but those two staircases are still there," said Brevoort.

Brevoort said there is one other commercial building older than the Steinegger — the Fry Building on the corner of Washington and Second streets is the oldest commercial structure in Phoenix. It was built in 1885 and is now known as Majerle’s Sports Grill.

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