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Back in April of 2012 a 130 year old building in the heart of downtown El Paso burned to the ground. John Wesley Hardin was a famous gunslinger in the late 1800s. He was also a lawyer who had his offices in a gorgeous building across the street from the Hotel Paso Del Norte, itself a historic landmark in El Paso. His amazing building burned to the ground in four hours ten years ago, and on Friday, we lost another century old downtown building to fire.

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HISTORIC DOWNTOWN EL PASO
El Paso businessman Billy Abraham used to own a dozen historic buildings in downtown El Paso but he lost them in a bankruptcy. Many were bought by Paul Foster including my favorite downtown building, the Kress building. Foster is well known for renovating crumbling downtown buildings. He redid the Mills Building and is now doing the Kress building. So many other buildings are in desperate need of renovation and the De Soto Hotel was in the process of getting repurposed when it went up in flames Friday afternoon. 

Patricia Martinez
Patricia Martinez
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DE SOTO HOTEL WAS A GEM AND A GHOST HAVEN
Buildings that stand for 117 years should not go up in flames in a few hours. The De Soto withstood over a century of change but in a little over an hour was almost consumed by fire? It's not known how it caught fire but the loss of yet another downtown El Paso architectural gem is a blow to the city for many reason. It was a landmark, yes, but it was also something that brought renewed attention because of it was said to be very haunted. Many ghost tours over the years yielded tales of people being attacked by malevolent spirits and the national web series The Paranormal Files was in town recently to look into its hauntings and "deemed the paranormal investigation “one of the scariest we've ever experienced.” Some people are saying that all those ghosts and sprits could be seen in the fire on Friday afternoon.

Robert Lizarraga
Robert Lizarraga
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HOW MANY MORE FIRES WILL THERE BE?
The Plaza Theater took millions of dollars and years to renovate, and it has become a jewel in downtown El Paso. How many more 120 year old buildings are we going to allow to be destroyed by devastating fires, before we, and City Council, say no more? The De Soto should have renovated and joined other downtown buildings like the Bassett Tower, the Hotel Paso Del Norte, and the other boutique hotels in downtown El Paso bringing in people to the center of our city. Instead, it will probably be deemed unsalvageable and lost forever. City Council and taxpayers need to say enough and work harder to prevent this kind of destruction from happening again.

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