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About the Simpson

Green Hotel Statement


We enjoy providing you with delicious breakfasts that are also nutritious and balanced. We take your individual dietary needs into consideration to the best of our ability, and for all of our guests we avoid products like refined sugar and "bad oils" that may not be in the best interests of your health and vitality.

We have a strong commitment to locally sourced delicacies, including vegetables, herbs and fruits in season, eggs from free-range chickens and of course the fresh, pure well water from The Outpost store on Highway 75. We have been instrumental in founding a farmers market here and in supporting local food culture here in the Gila River Valley.

Also, your plate scrapings, coffee grounds and tea leaves go into our compost bin, after they have been picked over by our "pygmy" goat Pepper and our flock of chickens. The composted table scraps will help fertilize the herbs and vegetables in next year's hotel garden.

Heating & Cooling

In the 18 months that we were renovating this old building, indoor temperatures ranged between 17° and 108°F. Now we stay comfortable year-round thanks to a heat exchange system designed by local electrician Richard Billingsley. The heat pump's outflow goes to storage tanks, from which it is routed onto the garden.

Other Green Practices

(or just call us old-fashioned) You may notice the sun-fresh aroma of your bed and bathroom linens. Except on rare days when the rains don't let up at all, we line-dry everything. Sunlight, live plants and "weather-permitting" open doors and windows freshen our air. We clean bathroom surfaces with essential oils and white vinegar, and use a vinegar solution to wash our slate floors as well. Except for the health department regulated bleach rinse that we use on dishes and kitchen surfaces, we avoid toxic chemicals in our housekeeping. Our Main Street Garden, beside the hotel, is a permaculture installation, planted by local horticulturist Bill Cook. It features many different native plants and attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Brief History

When it opened its doors in 1914, The Simpson was known as the Hotel Hobbs. By the time the earliest known photograph was published, in 1922, the "Simpson Hotel" painted across the top of the building was evident even through cottonwood trees. Back then all the bedrooms were small, and each had a solitary light bulb hanging from the ceiling and a dry sink. Most rooms had their own fireplaces.

In the 1940s, an industrious couple marketed The Simpson to engineers, schoolteachers and other professionals. It remained prosperous until the new Interstate 10 drew traffic and commerce away to the south. Later the building housed the Duncan Valley Electric Co-op, who modernized the ground floor but moved out after the Gila River flooded, reaching table height. A few different owners in succession took steps to restore the hotel, though none reached their goal. Our renovation, begun in January of 2006, involved a full six months of demolition followed by two years of construction.

The biggest little town in the fertile Upper Gila Valley, and the last stop before the New Mexico border on the Old West Highway, Duncan goes about its business much as it did in the first years of the 20th century, blending Mexican, Latter Day Saints, Texas pioneer and other cultures. The beautiful Gila River winds through it, with windswept, walkable levees overlooking its course, guarded on all sides by mountains laden with secret back roads, waterfalls, abandoned mines and exotic wildlife. Duncan is free of the hustle and bustle of city life, a place where the traffic is light, the air is fresh, the sky is big, and people welcome visitors with warm interest.

Google Map

The Simpson Hotel's Google Map is a great tool if you want to explore the area. See our own map of the area in Within 100 Miles of Duncan

In the Press

Arizona Republic, December 29, 2011
Greenlee County, Arizona: Copper, History, Scenery by Roger Naylor

Phoenix Magazine, June 2011
Best Arizona Vacations: 33 Summer Getaways

Arizona Republic, September 30, 2007
Hot on the Salsa Trail by Sam Lowe

Travel Writer Comments
The restored Simpson Hotel in Duncan is many things — a restoration project that saved a fine old building, a tribute to a woman's determination and, perhaps most of all, an excellent place to get a good night's sleep and then awaken to a scrumptious breakfast. The establishment is a shining jewel in the multi-faceted crown of Southeastern Arizona.

Sam Lowe, Author
Arizona Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff and You Know You're in Arizona When . . .: 101 Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of the Grand Canyon State"

If you're traveling on the Old West Highway, plan to stay at the Simpson. The rooms are historic but comfy, Deborah is worldly but fun, and her breakfasts are good and good for you. All this in dot-on-the-map Duncan. I think the Simpson is her calling.

Christine Maxa, Publisher, Jamax Publishers Press

This B&B was charming. Deborah had to gut its insides to restore it to its prior beauty. This has been achieved with great care and hard work on her part.
The Simpson features delicious breakfasts that are nutritious and balanced. With a strong commitment to locally sourced ingredients, Deborah is helping to organize a community effort to keep food crops growing in the Upper Gila Valley.
An area of the house that I personally found appealing was the dormer upstairs filled with a doll house and toys. While we were guests, there was a little boy staying in another room who was delighted to have this play area with different toys.
Norm and I look forward to returning.

Maralyn and Norm Hill are food, wine and travel writers. Maralyn is on the Board of Directors of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association www.BooksByHills.com

Other Guest Comments
What a delightful place to stay in Duncan! The owners have done a first class job of restoring the Simpson Hotel. Our room was spacious, cool, and comfortable. Breakfast was delectable. Most importantly, the owners have brought a long overdue energy and vitality not only to the Simpson Hotel, but to the whole area.

Marshall A. Lehman
San Diego, California
Duncan native

We have stayed at the Simpson Hotel on two separate occasions. The first time was because of a death in the family. The accommodations were excellent, but the hospitality was outstanding. There was a peaceful atmosphere that made a big difference in how I faced the decisions I had to make that week. The second time it was like coming back to visit a good friend. For both visits, the personal attention to our family and our needs was beyond what one expects at a hotel. We look forward to coming back many more times.

Joyce Hunt
Springtown, Texas

We had a most delightful stay at the Simpson Hotel in late September, 2008, while on a trip that included driving the spectacular "Coronado Trail Scenic Byway" and enjoying the tasty fare at stops on the "Salsa Trail." Deborah is an engaging and helpful hostess who prepares a delicious gourmet breakfast featuring excellent coffee. She has done a great job renovating a historic building, with great attention to detail including installing fantastic shower heads. We look forward to a return trip.

Jean Wagener
Western Massachusetts

Very comfy bed, great breakfast, wonderful host, and best part is no TV: highly recommended.

Mick, consulting civil engineer
Coronado, California

My first stay there was just after they opened and I remember thinking: "Now I know what restoration means." The key to restoration is to bring the beauty of the past through to the present while preserving its sense of place and time. A good restoration doesn't erase the lines of time, it celebrates them and polishes them. And that is what the Simpson was all about for me. I enjoyed my slow stay with long hikes in the canyons, a trek to Silver City, tours of old mining towns. And in the evening I returned to the Simpson which was immediately my home. It was a restoration of me.

Nova Novitsku, writer
San Francisco, California

Lola and I enjoyed our stay very much. We drove in on the Superstition Highway and learned as the smiling proprietor Ms Mendelsohn said when we called to confirm our reservations "You're only seventy miles away? You're practically on the doorstep. Seventy miles is nothing out here" that time and space are different in the amazing Southwest. We enjoyed the small town friendliness and the can-do attitude of everyone we met who gave us directions, suggestions and a lot of kidding about our bumper stickers.

Walter B. Lake, tourist
Richmond, California

For Writers
We think it was W.B. Yeats who had his friends lock him up and take away his clothes so that he would write. While we may not offer quite that degree of care for visiting writers, we do want to attract them (you) and we are open to ideas to help writers do extended retreats here. Work-trades, for instance. Give us a call if you want to investigate.

Some writers' comments:

The Simpson Hotel is a true treasure. While I walked within the bed and breakfast, I thought of its history and wondered about the people who spent time within its walls. If the walls could speak, I'm sure the stories would be intriguing.

Carmen Duarte is a reporter for The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. She currently writes for the paper's weekly Spanish section, La Estrella de Tucson. In 2000, she wrote Mama's Santos: An Arizona Life, a 36-part series about her mother's roots that was published in The Star. Her mother, Leonarda Bejarano Duarte, was born in Virden, New Mexico, in 1916 and she lived in Duncan and the Clifton-Morenci area. Mama's Santos: An Arizona Life: http://www.azstarnet.com/azlife/Day15.html

You may be asking yourself: of all the places in the world you think a writer would want to go "Paris, San Francisco, London, New York" why go write in a place like Duncan? It's small, has almost no culture or arts to speak of, its one main attraction is a fighter-jet-cum-war-memorial dangling from a hilltop over Main Street, and almost no one has ever heard of it. Well, I've written in all those other places. And so have most writers. You walk their streets and you might as well be in someone else's novel, they are so familiar. Duncan, however, is wholly unfamiliar and that is very good for writing or any other personal creative work.
Artists have long gone to strange places to get to the next step in their artistic evolution. However, as the world gets more and more trodden, finding such places is not so easy. Duncan has become that rare secret place in my book. Everything about it is unique" the dusty landscape, the rickety houses, the wooden churches, the slang, the bars, the unpredictable locals. Especially the locals. Everyone is a character in Duncan and generally quite open to visitors. You might call it the Northern Exposure of the Southwest. Just spend an afternoon in the lobby of the Simpson, at Ol' Jo's Cafe down the street, or at a Sunday morning service at the church next door and you have enough material to keep you busy for weeks. If the locals are not what you are after, do not worry. I did not write about Duncan directly in my time there, but its individuality stimulated what I was writing into undiscovered elasticity. I consider it some of my freshest work.
There are other perks, too. Deborah is a fantastic host and as a highly literate world traveler (she worked in news-media development all over the planet) and a former working writer, she makes for outstanding company to a writer or any artist (ask her about Russia!). She is also one of the sharpest and most generous people I have ever met. As for things to do when not writing, I recommend working in the garden (a huge benefit to my retreat), walking along the Gila River, or accompanying Deborah on one of her jaunts about town. (She is quietly taking Duncan by storm, helping to catalyze its transformation via an organic produce market, a tree festival and restoration of the river, to name a few projects.) The hotel itself is rather alive, being one of the town's original buildings with a pump organ, two goats, and sunlight pouring into every room.

Justin Taylor
a Paris-based playwright, spent two months writing at the Simpson

The Simpson Hotel is a gracious, elegant layover for anyone fortunate enough to find themselves in this historic corner of Arizona.

Margaret Jones, author
Patsy: The Life and Times of Patsy Cline

Who would ever go to Duncan, Arizona? Keep out. It's a weird little town that's kind of dusty, dry, hot as hell in the summer when the Gila River turns into a rocky gutter and it freezes up like a polar Dogpatch in the winter. There are a couple bars where everybody knows your name after one beer. Later they try to get you to dance. Alicia Keys loops with Diana Ross on a "get this" jukebox. There's no big shopping or any shows except the sky at night, the horizon all day. The pink granite canyons and abandoned mine shafts exhale broken dreams. The tour of the copper mine can cause nightmares. It's very much on the edge of time.

E. Kashka, novelist
San Francisco, California