Hotel Congress, located in Downtown Tucson, not only houses a 40 room hotel, but also a restaurant, bar and music club. It was built in 1919 along with the Tap Room. The building is located south of the historic Amtrak station and north of the historic Rialto Theater built in the same year. Alexander and William Curlett, of Curlett and Sons Architects, built the original hotel, but after the fire in 1934, the renovation was done by Roy Place, a local Tucson architect.
In 1934, a fire started in the basement of the hotel, which spread through to the third floor, where a gang of wanted bank robbers, known as the “Dillinger Gang,” were taking refuge under fake names. Forced to evacuate the burning building, they jumped out of their hotel window and were rescued by firemen. The gang paid the firemen to go back into the building to retrieve their luggage, but in doing so the firefighters got a good look at their faces and recognized them as the wanted bank robbers. Once police were aware of this, the gang was captured. From then on, Hotel Congress was known for being the site of the capture of famous bank robber John Dillinger.
John “Dillinger Days”
Currently, the hotel puts on events called “Dillinger Days” in remembrance of these historical events. Their website states, “Each year The Hotel Congress hosts a two-day spectacle in honor of the capture of America’s most notorious outlaw by the Tucson Police Department and the Tucson Fire Department. The festivities commence with a fundraising Speakeasy at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 22 and continue with a free family-friendly, all-day event starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, January 23. Gas up your speedster because all roads lead to Hotel Congress for the cultural and historical event of Southern Arizona.” The proceeds from these events all go towards The Greater Tucson Fire Foundation.
The Hotel Today
Hotel Congress was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2003 and remains in operation today in Downtown Tucson. Its rooms don “vintage radios and antique iron beds, and feature private bathrooms and air conditioning.” The hotel also now boasts an award winning breakfast joint “Cup Café,” a Tap Room, and the nightclub/music venue “Club Congress.”