Thursday, October 06, 2016

NM - Historic El Fidel Hotel up for sale

A storied downtown Las Vegas landmark where a prominent newspaperman shot a judge and a State Highway Department official during the 1920s is being sold in an online auction. Opening bid for the El Fidel Hotel is $300,000. The auction will begin on Oct. 27 and end on Nov. 1. The Douglas Avenue property, currently owned by the Wolff family, features 34 renovated hotel rooms and apartments, a restaurant with beer and wine license, offices, retail spaces, lobby and coffee bar. It also comes with an adjacent warehouse and an additional parking lot. The stately structure, designed by architect Henry C. Trost, is an example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. It has been on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties since 1976 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Originally named The Meadows, El Fidel was a community project initiated by the Commercial Club of Las Vegas in 1920. The community wanted to capitalize on U.S. Highway 84, — now Interstate 25 — which had just opened. The hotel opened in June 1923. “In the lobby, business men traded gossip and smoked cigars from the newsstand,” the hotel’s website states. “Families in their finest dress gathered for Sunday dinner in the formal dining room...” Prohibition was in full swing when the hotel opened, but that didn’t stop the hotel from selling liquor. Individuals wanting adult beverages would enter through the alley “as a nod to respectability,” the hotel website notes. Two years after it opened, the hotel made headlines as the site of a shooting involving then-Las Vegas Judge David Leahy and Carl Magee, founder of the now-defunct Albuquerque Tribune. Magee was relentless in his coverage of political corruption. His reporting helped Democrats unseat most Republicans for state office in the 1922 elections. That infuriated Republican leaders in San Miguel County, including Judge Leahy, who ordered Magee to stand trial on a trumped-up charge of publishing a libelous statement. Magee was convicted, but then-Democratic Gov. James F. Hinkle pardoned him and set aside his conviction and sentence. Leahy then found Magee in contempt of court for calling him corrupt and ordered Magee to serve a year in prison. Gov. Hinkle again pardoned Magee. The two men crossed paths again in 1925 in the lobby of what is now the El Fidel Hotel. Magee was being interviewed by the Las Vegas Optic when Leahy entered and attacked Magee, knocking him down, kicking him and breaking several of his ribs, according to a history of the Albuquerque Tribune. Magee drew a revolver from his pocket and fired two shots at the judge. Leahy was wounded in the arm. John B. Lassater, a State Highway Department official, was caught in the crossfire and died. Magee was acquitted of manslaughter...more

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