311 E Franklin Ave El Paso, TX 79901
Our family run hotel has a rich history that we are happy to share with you! Gardner Hotel is the oldest continually operating hotel in the city of El Paso, Texas. Founded in 1922, the downtown hotel has a long history of serving the public, including famous guests, over the years. We have had the privilege of several figures in American history stay with us, and our hostel memorabilia in the lobby will take you right there!
Our downtown hotel was first opened in 1922 by Preston E. Gardner, a lawyer who in 1923 ran for Mayor of El Paso. He lost his bid to be Mayor to Richard M. Dudley, after whom Dudley Field is named. Gardner Hotel was originally intended to be a five-story 100-room hotel, but when construction costs went $50,000 over budget and only three floors had been completed, Gardner stopped building. Because of fears of fire in the 1920s, Gardner Hotel was constructed entirely of steel making the hotel almost completely fire proof.
Gardner Hotel has a lot of history but most notably, on Jan. 9, 1934, bank robber John Dillinger and two members of his gang checked into the downtown Gardner Hotel. Dillinger signed the name John D. Ball on the registry and stayed in room 221. But because Dillinger didn’t break any laws during his stay, the El Paso Sheriff’s Department did not arrest him.
Dillinger checked out a few days later but was captured Jan. 25, 1934, in Tucson, Arizona, after being recognized by firefighters. They had saved his heavy luggage from a burning hotel there.
Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, American novelist, Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award Winner Cormac McCarthy wrote several of his books while living at the Gardner. He used the Gardner Hotel as a source of inspiration for his novels and even mentions the hotel by name in several of his books.
Our hotel has been in the family for four generations. If you have a question about the history of the hotel or El Paso, then talk to us! Our staff are a wealth of knowledge on the history and local area, and will be happy to show you the items in the hotel lobby even if you are just visiting.