On Valentine’s Day in 1928, ground was broken on Mesa’s first luxury hotel, El Portal.
The decision to build a luxury hotel in Mesa came after Arizona adopted its comprehensive highway plan in September 1927. Four federal highway routes were proposed along Main Street, U.S. 60, 70, 80 and 89. El Portal was to attract automobile travelers.
The leader of the Chamber of Commerce selected the name El Portal, which is Spanish for doorway or entry. The El Portal reflected the city’s brand at the time, “Mesa, the Gateway City.” The El Portal was open less than two years before the Great Depression hit and the hotel became a victim of the Depression when it was foreclosed June 29, 1931, just three years after opening.
The hotel stayed closed for several years but was occasionally used for filming movies during that time. Toward the end of World War II the El Portal reopened its doors and returned to its former glory. In 1950, the minor-league Oakland Oaks became the first professional baseball team to make headquarters at the now-named Maricopa Inn. Two years later, the Chicago Cubs moved into the hotel during their spring training seasons at Rendezvous Park. In January 1972, the El Portal/Maricopa Inn was torn down, making way for the First National Valley Bank.