Carmen E. Vda. de Gorrochotegui Residence, 1927

Here is a beautifully designed Spanish styled home designed by El Paso architect Mabel C. Welch for Carmen E. Vda. de Gorrochotegui and her adult daughter Carmen Gorrochotegui. The younger of the two was suffering from Tuberculosis, and the family moved from Tampico, Mexico, where they owned a successful oilfield worth an estimated $250,000.00, which is nearly $3.8 Million today.

The residence is located in the Manhattan Heights Historic District, where we recently positively documented 28 homes built by Welch, a prolific Contractor and Architect active from the 1920s well into the 1950s. This historic district is so forested with Welch designed properties, it would be nearly impossible to throw a rock without hitting an M.H. Welch home. It would be *completely* impossible if it weren't for a smattering of Otto Thorman and Trost & Trost designed buildings. (A note on the name "M.H. Welch": Mabel C. Welch operated as a business utilizing her late husband's initials during the entire length of her career.)

For more on the career of Mabel Welch in El Paso, please see the Trost Society's post at

This home, located at 2905 Wheeling, is a classic Welch Spanish design, which made up the bulk of her architecture in El Paso. It is well stocked with Spanish tiled hipped roofs, stuccoed walls and pleasing arches. We love the Trost-like chimney, which has its own Spanish tile topper.

This home was not without controversy when it was built. The younger Carmen Gorrochotegui, who was 27 years of age at the time and extremely enfeebled by her Tuberculosis, fell for a Band Leader and musician she met at the Hotel Hussmann during an event. The musician, E. V. Johnson (known as Jerry) married Carmen in a secret ceremony in Las Cruces. When the new Mrs. Johnson was lying in her death bed, she signed a will granting her new husband a paltry $2,000 slice of her immense oil fortune. 

After she passed away, her mother Carmen E. Vda. de Gorrochotegui, also bedridden, was enraged to discover that her daughter was married without her knowledge - which began an emotional and headline-generating court battle between her and Jerry Johnson over the proceeds of the will - while Jerry felt equal rage at receiving only $2,000 - which kept the Society pages afire in local newspapers for months. The family had to sell the home in 1929, only two years after it was built, to "settle the Estate". Did Johnson marry Carmen knowing she was sick just for the money? The narrative ends with the sale of the house - so we don't know. However, the court system and the newspapers were obsessed with the dark hullabaloo. 

Today, the house is in great condition, lined up on Wheeling with a number of other homes designed by Mabel Welch - El Paso's first and most influential female Architect.
Text and research provided to by Mark Stone, citing period newspaper articles accessed at 

Google Earth Street View accessed 03/03/2021

Google Earth Street View accessed 03/03/2021