The community of Gila Bend owes its existence to the circumstances of geography and the trails, rails, and roads that crossed southern Arizona, connecting California with destinations out east. Stout’s Hotel was built in phases between about 1916 and 1929 at the center of Gila Bend, Arizona to serve the railroad employees and passengers as well as automobile travelers.
The Town of Gila Bend acquired the property in 2017, intending to preserve the building as a part of the town’s heritage. Motley Design Group was commissioned in January 2018 to prepare a comprehensive feasibility study. The purpose of the study was to analyze the existing conditions of the building, determine potential rehabilitation approaches for adaptive reuse, estimate rehabilitation costs, and recommend next steps toward putting the building back into use as an asset to the Town. The feasibility study helped determine possible uses of the hotel following its rehabilitation. Those possibilities include use as a Community Civic Center with a museum downstairs combined with lease space and reopening the former cafe. Upstairs would include office space and the new Town Hall. Outside would include an open-air amphitheater and plaza space. Another possibility would be to reopen the space as a hotel with a museum downstairs and access to off-site spaces on either side of the building.
Before any of these possibilities could be realized, it was important to get the Stout's Hotel registered as an historic place, and Motley Design Group helped with that too. Following the completion and delivery of their feasibility study in June 2018, Motley Design Group submitted the application for National Historical Designation on July 14th, 2018, to the Historic Sites Review Committee of the State Historic Review Office. To be considered eligible, Stout's Hotel had to meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. After meeting the criteria, Stout's was approved for submission and consideration on July 27th, 2018 and passed to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. Stout's Hotel was officially added to the register and designated historic on September 24th, 2018!
During the early 1900's, Gila Bend was growing thanks in large part to the railroad and so Albert Stout decided to open a general store and a hotel on Murphy Street across from the Gila Bend railroad station. The hotel first opened in 1914, but was rebuilt and opened again in 1916 following a destructive fire. In 1923, Albert realized that his hotel could not accommodate the increase in traffic through Gila Bend, and had 16 rooms added, along with a billiard hall in the hotel's basement. Stout then added a mercantile shop and a gas station to his list of roadside services. In 1927, Stout's was expanded again to add a second floor and the building's entrance was moved so that it faced North away from the tracks and toward Pima Street and its ever-increasing automobile traffic.
When traveling by car, Gila Bend was approximately halfway between Tucson and Yuma and still a couple of hours from Phoenix. Hot desert temperatures and poor road conditions made Gila Bend a perfect rest stop for overnight stays or even day time stays to avoid the heat for people traveling east by car from either Los Angeles or San Diego or heading to California. The 1947 and 1948 registries of the Stout Hotel indicate that overnight guests came from California, Arizona, Mexico and destinations as far east as Illinois.
The construction of Interstate 8 provided a quick pass-by option for travelers which reduced commercial activity overall and contributed to the demise of the Stout Hotel in the mid 1970's.