often fished and hunted in New Mexico and loved the
dry climate. He was convinced that Hobbs, New
Mexico would become the oil headquarters of the
Southwest after oil was discovered nearby in 1929.
In 1930 Harden built a three-story modern, fireproof hotel and dozens of small homes in a development known as New Hobbs. Pauline Jarrott was placed in charge of the 110-room hotel which opened November 22, 1930. Harden hosted a giant party to celebrate the opening of the hotel. Friends and business associates came from as far away as New York City for the gala event.
The Hotel Harden offered steam heat, hot and cold running water, and telephone service in each room. Most of the rooms had a private bath and rented for a very reasonable $1.50 per night. The hotel was owned by Lea-Mex Development Company, another legal corporation in Harden's financial maze. Harden and his trusted allies, George Simpson and Roscoe Farmer, were the three incorporators of the New Mexico corporation.
The coffee shop at the Hotel Harden became the "in" place for Hobbs residents. A local newspaperman reported, "Their meals are suggestive of home cooking and their daily luncheon specials are both delightful and economical. You find no rigid formalities or stilted magnificence in practice at the Harden but a rare air of hospitality pervades the entire atmosphere."
The Hobbs project almost cost Harden his life. He was flying from Oklahoma City to Hobbs in his new tri-motor airplane to inaugurate the new hotel. During the flight, the plane lost power, forcing the pilot to crash land in the New Mexico desert. Harden and the pilot were both shaken up but suffered only minor scrapes and bruises. Harden sold the tri-motor immediately and never flew again.
The Hotel Harden and the surrounding development became vitally important to Harden as a large source of revenue during the Great Depression. When profits from projects in Oklahoma and elsewhere were slim, Harden's investment in Hobbs paid the bills."
Note the change in signage in the photo below below...
Notice that the ornamental facade has been removed and many of the windows
on the first floor plastered over in the photo shown below.
Image courtesy of John Harden
Hotel Harden in 1952
Photo courtesy of David Minton
of Hotel Harden in 1952
Photo courtesy of David Minton
The guest soaps shown above are from the Hotel Harden.
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