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Built in 1883, the building that houses the Ghost915 Paranormal Research Center began as the Fashion Saloon. Being the first saloon in El Paso with electric lights, the saloon, with gambling and brothel upstairs, quickly became one of the top five saloons in the city. 1889 saw the saloon renamed the WigWam and this is what the building, even through its reincarnation as the State Theatre, has always been remembered as.
The WigWam has assuredly seen its fair share of gun fighters and icons of the old west. Pat Garrett, who was a U.S. Customs broker in El Paso, certainly passed through its doors. Texas's own "Dark Angel of Death", John Wesley Hardin, was half owner of the WigWam, from May to June, in 1895. The site of his killing is just one block from the saloon. Hardin's assassin, John Henry Selman, was a bouncer at the WigWam and while awaiting a retrial for Hardin's murder, was himself shot in the alley that runs next to the research center, and died four hours later at Sisters Hospital, which later became known as Hotel Dieu.
As gambling became illegal, saloons in the city had to find ways to remain viable. The WigWam was no different. Thus, in 1909 it became the WigWam theatre. Legendary architect, Henry C. Trost redesigned the theatre in 1912, resplendent with marble ticket booth. In 1940, the WigWam name passed into history when the theatre was renamed the State.
The State theatre closed it's doors in 1981 and the building has run the gamete of retail businesses since. While being used for storage, fire damaged the interior of the building in 2011. It has now been reborn as the Ghosts915 Paranormal Research Center and stands as an example for the refurbishment, restoration, and preservation of downtown El Paso's historic buildings.
Visit us at 108 E San Antonio Ave in Downtown El Paso. 915-274-9531