The Aztec Hotel is located at 311
West Foothill Blvd. in Monrovia, CA. The hotel has 44 rooms and
the complex includes the Mayan Room Restaurant, banquet
facilities, and a courtyard. Contact the hotel at 626-358-3231.
When it opened in 1925, the
Aztec Hotel was not only the most ornate hotel in Monrovia, it
was also the first attempt to apply the principles of Mayan art
and architecture to modern American buildings. Located along an
early alignment of Route 66, the hotel quickly became Monrovia’s
premier hostelry and an architectural curiosity in the area.
Today, it is the most highly visible landmark in the city, the
first of a very few remaining Mayan-styled buildings in the
United States, and one of the more unique lodging establishments
on Route 66.
Inspired by John L. Stephen’s book, Incidents of Travel in
Central America: Chiapas and Yucatan, architect Robert B.
Stacy-Judd designed the building, which he named the ‘Aztec’
because he believed that the general public was better
acquainted with that tribe than with the Maya. Mr. Stacy-Judd
constructed the building on a modest budget concentrating most
of the ornamentation along the rooflines, on the building
corners, and around the entrance structure to the lobby. Stepped
projections, square spires, and geometric designs are
reminiscent of Mayan pyramids and art in Mexico. Mr. Stacy-Judd
also included Mayan mosaics, murals, and reliefs in the interior
to continue the theme inside. The lobby furniture completed the
effect with Aztec, Toltec, and Inca designs, and even the
electrical fixtures exhibited a Mayan motif.
publicity associated with the hotel’s completion spurred an
almost immediate response, influencing the design of buildings
across the country including the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles,
the Beach and Yacht Club in La Jolla, and the Mayan Hotel in
Kansas City. New companies sprung up manufacturing furniture,
tile, fixtures, and other items of Mayan design. The Mayan style
proved to be a short-lived phenomenon, however, and effectively
died out by the end of the 1920s.
In 1931, the
realignment of Route 66 bypassed the Aztec Hotel. Although its
lifespan on a commissioned Route 66 alignment was brief, the
hotel remains a popular icon on the route. It is now one of only
a few remaining Mayan styled buildings in the country.
The Aztec Hotel was listed in the National Register of Historic
Places in 1978. With grant assistance from the National Park
Service's Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, the hotel’s
owners began restoration in 2000, by removing the façade’s
stucco using water pressure to reveal the original Mayan glyphs.
Work on the building has focused on preserving as much of the
original ornamentation as possible.