History of The Letson Loft Building


The historic buildings known as the "Letson Block" are estimated to have been constructed between 1883 and 1888. These are recognized as the oldest brick structures in the city.

The Letson Block was originally known as the Goldwater-Castaneda mercantile store, opened in 1883 by Joseph Goldwater, a pioneering Arizona merchant, and grandfather to Arizona's legendary Barry Goldwater. The Goldwater-Casteneda Store was the main retail establishment in the mining town of Bisbee and handled The Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co. payroll. 

The store was the scene of the 1883 "Bisbee Massacre". Robbers attempted to steal the miners' payroll, and the ensuing shootout left five Bisbee residents dead. After a brief getaway, the bandits were rounded up and sentenced to hang in Tombstone, Arizona. The incident was documented as one of the most violent in the history of the Arizona Territory, with a death toll of eleven. The safe can still be seen in the ground floor common area of the Letson Loft Hotel.

A fire destroyed most of Main Street in 1888. The building was re-built and became the site of The Turf Saloon, described to be "...one of the best known in the territory". The saloon served the choicest of wines, liquors and cigars and had a bustling gambling business. The Arizona Territorial Legislature outlawed gambling in 1907 which foresaw a loss of income for The Turf and others like it. Owners of The Turf Saloon were eventually forced out of business in 1915 when statewide prohibition became effective.

In 1890, Irish Businessman James Letson and his wife Maggie opened the Mansion House Hotel.  In 1902 the buildings became known as The Letson Block. Since then the Letson Block has been home to various businesses over the years, including a Wallace's pool hall,  jewelers,  restaurants, shoemakers, a bank, clothing stores, watchmakers and a food co-op. 

Today the Letson Loft Hotel is the most comfortable stay in Bisbee, with the charm and romance of days gone by. The new owners have invested thoughtful renovations to the building. They have created eight spacious and artfully decorated rooms with 11' ceilings, private baths, restored hardwood floors, original skylights and exposed brick and adobe plastered walls. 

Our hope is that the Letson legacy continues through the loving care of this important and historic landmark.

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