The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park has a history steeped in the heritage of El Paso, and its origins date to the 1800s.
In 1884, Brooklyn native Dr. Lucius Sheldon built an elegant masonry office building here, before converting it into a hotel in 1899. Designed by local firm Trost & Trost, the Sheldon Hotel quickly earned a reputation as one of the most luxurious hotels in the Southwest, serving as unofficial headquarters for participants in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). It was here that U.S. President William Howard Taft stayed during his historic meeting with Mexico’s President Porfirio Díaz.
On April 9, 1929, the Sheldon Hotel burned down, and entrepreneur Conrad Hilton soon stepped in with plans for a taller, grander replacement. Just days after construction began, the stock market crashed, bringing America into the Great Depression. Still, the renowned hotelier pressed on, hiring Trost & Trost once again. On November 30, 1930, the hotel opened as Hilton’s eighth property, with an Art Deco design featuring brick-and-concrete facade and a Spanish-tiled pyramidal crown that’s visible for miles. It marked the brand’s first high-rise, and stood as the tallest building in El Paso for more than 30 years. During much of this time, Conrad himself resided in the hotel, and his mother lived there until 1947.
Like its predecessor, the Hilton welcomed its share of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor. Married to Conrad Hilton’s son, Nicky, the A-list starlet lived in the hotel during the filming of her 1956 blockbuster, Giant. The film, which also starred James Dean and Rock Hudson, went on to earn nine Academy Award nominations, winning Best Director.
In the 1960s, Hilton sold the property, which lived on as The Plaza Hotel for decades, welcoming thousands of guests to downtown El Paso.
In 2008, The Plaza’s overdue comeback began when it was purchased by El Paso businessman Paul Foster. For more than a decade, architects and designers worked tirelessly to restore the hotel to its former grandeur—a gathering place where generations of creatives, leaders and travelers convene for a chance to experience the cultural epicenter of West Texas.
Nearly 90 years since it opened, the spectacular Art Deco architecture of Trost & Trost has been revived as The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park: an independent property that celebrates both its illustrious personal narrative as well as the history of El Paso.