Gustav Becker was born in Germany in 1856. He came to the United States in 1871 as an employee for his brother John, operating the Huning and Becker Store in Belen, New Mexico. In about 1875, he and his brother Julius formed the Becker Brothers Store in Springerville AZ, and operated it until Julius' death in 1893. The store continued under a new name, the Gustav Becker Store, until 1908.
He served as the U.S. Postmaster for many years in Springerville, in addition to planning area roads and being a Notary Public. He grew in stature in the area, serving on the Executive Committee of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association and was the County Engineer for Apache County. He was the founder of the Becker-Mactavich Ford Dealership in Magdalena, the Becker-Franze Company in Socorro NM, the Becker-Keogh Hardware Company here in El Paso, and - the subject of this article - the Apache Tavern Hotel in his hometown of Springerville. A Monument has been erected on the grounds of the Post Office in Springerville, and a number of local features, including a lake, are named after him and members of his family. The father of 9 children, he died in 1940 - a true Springerville pioneer.
The Apache Tavern Hotel was a project of his, first mentioned in local Apache County newspapers in 1917. Possibly using connections he had in El Paso because of the Hardward firm he co-owned here, he contracted with the architectural firm of Trost & Trost to design his hotel, according to the El Paso Herald of 06/09/1917. Of course, the firm of Trost & Trost was widely used and admired throughout the Southwest by 1917, so he may have just known them by reputation.
Construction did not take place on the Hotel property until early 1920. We are not aware of the reason(s) construction was delayed for so long. Mr. Becker also concurrently erected a Bank Building, however we have no documentation tying Trost & Trost to the Bank. The contractor was M.L. Porter Construction, and the erection of the Hotel and Bank was supervised jointly by J.H. Shelton.
Advertisements in local newspapers for the Apache Tavern Hotel did not appear until September, 1920, leading us to speculate that the building was completed that year. The Hotel operated successfully until at least 1943, when it seems to disappear from newspaper mentions.
The Apache Tavern Hotel has been demolished, sad to say, but we were able to find one picture of it in the form of a Postcard on Ebay. It was a two-story building in a simple (apparent) Pueblo design, a bit similar to a couple of other Hotels the firm of Trost & Trost designed in that period; the Gateway Hotel in El Paso, and the Holland in Alpine, TX.
The Hotel was flanked by a beautiful Post Office building that was extant in 1930 and stands today. We've included a Google Earth Street View of the Post Office and the location of the demolished Hotel.
A note that many historical enthusiasts, including the Trost Society Interactive Map, mistakenly refer to this Trost building as the Apache Chief Hotel, but that is a different building.
Text and research provided to the Trost Society by Mark Stone, citing newspaper clippings accessed at newspapers.com. Also citing the Becker Family Collection at the Arizona Historical Society at https://arizonahistoricalsociety.org/
|The Hotel in 1930. Postcard photograph courtesy of an Ebay sale at https://www.ebay.ca/itm/254682723617|
|Zoom of the above picture. Postcard photograph courtesy of an Ebay sale at https://www.ebay.ca/itm/254682723617|
|Google Earth Street View accessed 2021, showing the extant Post Office. The Hotel is long gone.|