Canyon Rose Suites

Southern
Canyon Rose Suites is located at 27 Subway Street in Bisbee.

By Kathy Montgomery | Photograph by Steven Meckler

Even with the shutters closed, light fills the kitchen, thanks to skylights that run nearly the length of my aerie at Canyon Rose Suites. But I open the shutters anyway, taking in the hotel’s bird’s-eye view of Bisbee.

Canyon Rose occupies the top floor of the historic Allen Block Building in the heart of the city. The Allen family manufactured the distinctive textured bricks used to construct the building in 1904. Allen blocks, as they became known, were subsequently used throughout Southern Arizona. 

Fortunately, like almost everything in this vertical city, Canyon Rose is built into the side of a hill, which allows guests to access their suites via a short flight of stairs from the parking lot. The north-facing suites offer the loftiest views, through expansive windows 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide. 

The basement originally housed a furniture factory. Then, as now, the ground floor served as retail space. The upper floor saw various uses, including miners’ housing and, apparently for a time, an illegal marijuana-growing operation. During their six-year renovation, owners Brett and Alison Van Gorp found remnants of the latter, engineered to take advantage of the skylights.

Originally from the Bay Area, the Van Gorps came to Bisbee in the early 1990s after a friend loaned them a Barbara Kingsolver novel. Inside, they found a Bisbee postcard illustrated by local artist Judy Perry. It intrigued them. “That’s how we ended up here,” Alison says. “Then my husband fell in love with the building, and I told him he was crazy.” 

They began by removing 22 tons of debris where walls and ceilings had collapsed. “It was just studs,” Alison recalls, “and full of bats.” The Van Gorps retained the original window glass, maple flooring and white enameled kitchen cabinets. They scoured antiques stores and auctions for period hardware and fixtures, including elegant hallway lamps taken from the Queen Mary.

They then commissioned local artists to create the metalwork and other decorative touches, and rented the retail spaces to artists. Early tenants included Perry, who hosted spontaneous dance parties. Last year, those long-ago gatherings inspired the Van Gorps, with other vendors on Subway Street, to launch Subway Underground: monthly community gatherings that often end with live music. 

For Brett, the process has felt like restoring breath and life to the moribund building, fostering the community now thriving behind its walls. 

“It’s been remarkable,” Alison agrees. “It’s been an adventure.”

Canyon Rose Suites is located at 27 Subway Street in Bisbee. For more information, call 520-432-5098 or visit www.canyonrose.com.