El Chorro Lodge is one of Paradise Valley’s most beloved landmarks. Originally built in the 1930s as the Judson School for Girls, the establishment was converted into a restaurant and lodge in 1937. Since then, star-studded guests and dazzling celebrities such as John Wayne, Barry Goldwater, and Clark Gable have since graced the cozy salon.
When local philanthropist Jacquie Dorrance purchased the property in 2009, the time had come to give the historic 75-year-old property a proper facelift. One of the first calls she made was to custom luxury builder Desert Star Construction, who not only executed a multi-faceted renovation of the property, but infused numerous sustainable enhancements that made El Chorro Lodge Arizona’s first full-service restaurant to be granted the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environment and Energy Design (LEED) Gold Certification.
In the process, the design and construction teams carefully employed environmentally sensitive practices, which included:
- Maintaining the original building footprint and incorporating existing adobe walls.
- Diverting more than 80 percent of construction waste from landfills.
- Salvaging beams from the old lodge and using them wherever possible.
- Using 840 pairs of recycling blue jeans for the exterior wall insulation.
- Removing and reusing all roof tiles from the existing building.
El Chorro utilizes solar power, solar water heating, high-efficiency lighting, and eco-friendly construction materials that together offset more than half of its total energy use.
In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Desert Star Construction President Jerry Meek stated, “We were thrilled to lead the El Chorro renovation and thrilled again when the El Chorro team approved our green-build recommendations.”
Today’s El Chorro Lodge boasts an expanded exterior dining patio, outdoor lounge spaces, a renovated event pavilion, and an indoor/outdoor bar that protects the open feel of the restaurant while growing its breathtaking views of Camelback Mountain.
El Chorro Lodge has earned a Valley Partnership Environmental Excellence Award and was recognized by Southwest Contractor Magazine and Building of America.
Article originally posted in The Scout Guide – Phoenix