Monrovia's haunting Aztec Hotel.
Built in 1925 in the Mayan Revival style, Monrovia’s sadly dilapidated Aztec Hotel is a notable example of the once-proudly offbeat motoring attractions that characterized America’s famous Route 66.
The hotel was designed by Robert Stacy-Judd, an architect known for exotic buildings, including several Egyptian-themed theaters in England. The Aztec was his first American creation.
Tucked away in Monrovia’s growing business district, the modest-size Aztec is easy to zip on past when cruising what is now Foothill Blvd. (In fact, the scary characters you’ll likely encounter there — alive and otherwise — will probably discourage you from lingering altogether.) Yet the hotel is culturally significant for sparking a wave of similarly designed buildings across the country. In 1978 it was added to the National Register of Historic places as one of America’s first (and last remaining) Mayan Revival structures.
Inside, the lobby, banquet room and other interior spaces can probably best be described as cozy but ornate, thanks to a playful mix of Aztec and Mayan-inspired murals, mosaics and related architectural cues.
Upscale and chic when it opened, the Aztec quickly fell on hard times during the Depression. It had a brief recovery during the 1930s — and even hosted such celebrities as Bing Crosby — but eventually declined as the surrounding area developed.
In more recent decades, the hotel has struggled with a reputation for seediness, although current management seems intent on rekindling it’s former charm. Perhaps this is one reason they aren’t shy about romanticizing their ghostlore on the Aztec’s website:
“In the twenties or thirties a tragic accident occurred to a young couple in room 120. During their lovemaking, the wife fell off the bed and hit her head on the radiator, causing her death. Every room located west of room 120, which includes rooms 118, 116 and 114, has been without heat since the misfortune. Time and time again, the heating system is checked out, but it is always found to be in working order.”
So goes the story of the female ghost dubbed “Razzle Dazzle.” But she isn’t alone in haunting the joint. In fact, if you believe such stories, the Aztec is very popular with female visitors from the Great Beyond. Several ghostly women are said to frequent a ladies’ rest room in the lobby area, while others flit through the hotel’s hallways, chilling the air as they go.
This is probably a good thing in summer, since to this day the hotel lacks air conditioning — supposedly to preserve its historic character.
311 W. Foothill Blvd.