The Lodge at Cloudcroft, History

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The announcement of the construction of a new lodge was published in the Alamogordo News on February 17th, 1910. It read;

“Cloudcroft, the premier Resort of the Great Southwest will be rebuilt. That is now beyond controversy.
Mr. Simmons, General Manager of the El Paso and Southwestern route, which owns Cloudcroft, said some time since to the El Paso papers that Cloudcroft would be restored as a resort, but he was not then in a position to say when the actual construction work would be commenced.
The great Resort Hotel will be ready for occupancy by the opening of the season of 1911. The new structure will be one of the finest hotels in the Southwest, modern and architecture, furnishings and fittings, with no convenience or comfort lacking. Cloudcroft as a resort will be given the widest range of publicity possible. One of the handsomest booklets ever issued from a modern press will be used in the advertising and the railroad will do all that brains and money can accomplish to make it one of the most widely known and popular resorts in the Southwest.”

The new Lodge at Cloudcroft opened on June 1, 1911. The railroad commissioned a Chicago architectural firm design the new Lodge. The central building was designed with a tower element that was flanked by two lower sections of different size but equal mass. This part of the building was designed to contain the two-story lobby, a two story dining room, and kitchen facilities. The offices of the resident manager were located off of the mezzanine.
On the third floor was a large dormitory which could accommodate 75-80 men. Connected to the main building was a two story wing which contained fifty guest rooms, twelve private baths, and four guest baths. A basement was constructed only under the central portion of the building. The original exterior was of a grey stucco, which was described as “fireproof.” The three projecting bay windows gave light to the interior and spectacular views for the dining room guests. Although the main building, which contained the public spaces, was physically attached to the guest wing, which included the private areas, they were entirely separate visually. The roof, as well as fenestration and architectural elements, were entirely different on each section of the building; however, the original third-floor dormers and cupolas on the main building and the wing were identical.

During the following forty years the history of the Lodge was fairly uneventful. The depression years reduced the number of resort and vacationing Americans at Cloudcroft as well as across the United States as a whole. However, the Lodge offered gambling and alcohol as a way to help pay the bills. Several times the Lodge’s owners would get into trouble for selling alcohol during prohibition.
From 1932 to 1935 Conrad Hilton leased the Lodge from the railroad and operated both the hotel and dining room for three seasons.

In 1933 the manager at the lodge was a man named William Tooley. One of his employees was a gentleman known merely as Dixie. The gambling manager, Dave Lawson, would slip Dixie money to gamble with in hopes of increasing the profits of the gambling business that ran out of the Lodge’s basement. Gambling was a significant source of income for the Lodge for most of this decade.

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