Hotels and the Marshall Foundation
Big things were taking place in other sectors of the Tucson economy during the 1920s. Throughout the decade, foundations were being established for a tourism industry. In 1922, local business men and women joined together to form the Tucson Sunshine-Climate Club, an organization to advertise Tucson and its amenities. Two years later, the Arizona Polo Association spearheaded the effort to develop a yearly winter event to draw visitors to the Old Pueblo and so Tucson's rodeo, La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros, was born. The first rodeo in February of 1925 conclusively illustrated the need for more hotel rooms, and the building boom commenced.
At the beginning of the decade, Tucson had only about 200 hotel rooms available for visitors. Within ten years, that number would climb to over 1,500. The most prestigious hotel and center of Tucson social life through the first quarter of the twentieth century was the Santa Rita Hotel. The first major effort at resort development came about as a community effort to develop the a resort hotel.
Large national companies were reluctant to risk investment on a small market such as Tucson, so the community decided to build a resort hotel on its own. Stock was sold, land acquired and a name derived at as the result of a naming contest sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star newspaper. The name for the resort would be, "EI Conquistador." In October 1928, the new resort opened with a grand celebration.
With the community effort leading the way, two private efforts commenced which proved the validity of the market demand. In the downtown area, a consortium of investors led by Albert Steinfeld contributed the one million dollars necessary to build the eleven-story Pioneer Hotel. A number of smaller hotels were also built during the decade to provide for the traveler and tourist, along with dozens of auto camps springing up along the U.S. Highways running through the community. As the 1920s were coming to a close, the automobile was beginning to emerge as the dominant form of transportation.
Two Views Showing the Close Connection of the Marshall home and the University of Arizona
Tom Marshall quickly recognized the potential for profit in the tourism market. In 1928, Tom and Ivan Peters began to visit the sites of existing hotels, or those currently in construction. They observed the development of El Conquistador, El Presidio and Geronimo hotels, along with the Pepper Tree Inn and Don Martin apartments. Tom regularly visited the site of the Pioneer. Another building then under construction, the Veterans' Hospital on South Sixth Avenue, also attracted Marshall's attention primarily to inspect the York Refrigeration plant being installed.
Tom and Louise had a vacant lot downtown, directly across from the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Toole Avenue on which he wanted to build a hotel. Tom envisioned that his hotel would climb to the lofty height of seventeen-stories and provide 234 rooms for visitors, all equipped and furnished with the utmost in modern conveniences. Tom planned for the facility to be ready for occupancy by September 1, 1930. In 1929, Tom was actively seeking investors and tried to get the bankers to listen to his proposal. The project actually commenced to the point of architectural drawings (and a $1,500 retainer for the architect) and a site inspection by the City Engineer. Tom worked with Los Angeles architect Charles F. Whittlesey on developing plans for the proposed hotel. The use of an architect from outside Tucson undoubtedly caused rancor among local practitioners. A survey of the property in preparation to begin construction activities found the Marshall improvements to be encroaching on the property to the north, the site of the Heidel Hotel (later renamed the MacArthur Building). The disputed property proved to be of little concern. However, Tom's inability to attract outside development capital doomed the project. Louise refused to consider mortgaging property to raise funds for Tom's hotel.
While the hotel plans failed to succeed, the Marshall's were eminently successful in establishing a foundation to continue charitable work into the future. On January 14, 1930, the Marshall Charitable Foundation was formally established with a five member Board of Directors; Thomas K. Marshall, president, Ivan Peters, vice-president, Louise F. Marshall, secretary-treasurer, and general members the Reverend Julian C. McPheeters, and Leslie A. Lohse. On January 16, the Articles of Incorporation for the Foundation were filed in the office of the Arizona Corporation Commission. While Tom once again held the leading public role, Louise performed all the planning for the Foundation and controlled its finances.
It may be noted that not all dreams and aspirations of the 1920s came to be realized and some took many decades beyond their inspiration to see fulfillment. During the 1990s, the Marshall Foundation working in cooperation with the University of Arizona finally provided President von KleinSmid and Tom Marshall with the realization of their frustrated 1920s goals. The west Main Gate Project has resulted in the University's expansion west along University Boulevard in the construction of a large administration building. Directly to the east of that building, on Marshall Foundation land, the John Q. Hammon Corporation constructed an eight-story hotel providing 255 guest rooms. The Marriott University Park Hotel and Convention Center finally provides the hotel Tom Marshall had sought to develop 66 years earlier.
Three buildings remaining as Marshall Foundation property were remodeled and rezoned for offices in 1989, and are now leased by the University of Arizona. At 803 and 811 East First Street, the territorial-style apartments built by Professor Foucar in 1903, are now the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and the Morris K. Udall Foundation. At 819 East First Street, the mission-revival style residence built in 1926, and the former Peters home (1928-1972) is now the Roy P. Drachman Institute for Land and Regional Development Studies. A fourth building, north of the Udall Center is a residential duplex, built in 1922. In 1990 it was purchased by Patricia Stephenson from the Marshall Foundation and restored. It is now leased to the University.