Sunset Heights

Sunset Heights is a historic area in El Paso, Texas; which has existed since the latter part of the 1890s. Many wealthy residents have had their houses and mansions built on this hill. Although some buildings have been renovated to their former glory, many have been neglected and have deteriorated. An organization, the Sunset Heights Improvement Association helps neighbors on a fixed income to manage home maintenance and also sponsors an annual tour.[2]

Sunset Heights Historic District
Sunset Heights El Paso TX General view 07.JPG
Home in Sunset Heights
Sunset Heights Historic District is located in Texas
Sunset Heights Historic District
Sunset Heights Historic District
Sunset Heights Historic District is located in the United States
Sunset Heights Historic District
Sunset Heights Historic District
LocationRoughly bounded by Heisig Ave., River Ave., N. El Paso St., and I-10,
El Paso, Texas
Coordinates31°45′47″N 106°29′53″W / 31.76306°N 106.49806°W / 31.76306; -106.49806Coordinates: 31°45′47″N 106°29′53″W / 31.76306°N 106.49806°W / 31.76306; -106.49806
Area170 acres (69 ha)
ArchitectHenry C. Trost, et al.
Architectural styleTudor Revival, Mission/Spanish Revival, Classical Revival
NRHP reference No.88002672[1]
Added to NRHPDecember 8, 1988


North Oregon Street and Sunset Heights, 1909.

John Fisher Satterthwaite first started purchasing land in the area in the 1880s and by 1885 had built 90 houses.[3] The area was known as the "Satterthwaite Addition" while he owned the land.[4] Satterthwaite lost the land he'd built in 1894.[3]

The name, "Sunset Heights," was given to the area in 1901, after the El Paso Herald held a contest for the best name for the neighborhood.[3]

Some buildings in Sunset Heights have remnants of tunnels underneath them which may have been started in the early 1900s.[5] Some tunnels, including ones found under El Paso High School, may have been used to smuggle Chinese workers who were banned from the United States because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.[6] One of the best-known tunnels is underneath the Turtle House in Sunset Heights.[6]

During the 1910 Mexican Revolution many affluent Mexicans fled Mexico and settled in Sunset Heights.[7] During the Mexican Revolution, a widely popular Mexican revolutionary leader, Doroteo Arango (as known as Francisco "Pancho" Villa), owned and resided in this area during the 1910s.[8] In 1915, a house designed by Trost & Trost in Sunset Heights was used as a meeting place for General Hugh Scott and Pancho Villa.[9]

Until around the time of the Great Depression, Sunset Heights was a fashionable neighborhood.[10]

The neighborhood was designated as a historic district in 1984, with the help of John Karr.[11] In 2003, the Sunset Heights Neighborhood Association started giving tours of historic areas and homes called the Sunset Heights Tour.[2]


Sunset Heights is about one mile, and one and half miles across.[11] Because of the historic designation of the neighborhood, residents must adhere to a building code.[11] Blocks in the neighborhood are of different shapes.[3] Houses are designed in various styles including American Foursquare, Tudor Revival, Classical Revival, Queen Anne and Spanish Colonial Revival.[10]

Interstate 10 serves as the southern and western border for the neighborhood. Schuster Avenue cuts it off to the north and Mesa Street is the eastern boundary.[citation needed]


Residents are zoned to the El Paso Independent School District. Mesita Elementary School serves the community with the EC/DC (ex-Villas Elementary) in Sunset Heights. The community is also zoned to Wiggs Middle School and El Paso High School.[12]

Notable residentsEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Bedoya, Aaron (5 October 2016). "Sunset Heights Tour walks El Pasoans through unique history". What's Up. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Maravilla, Aurora; Morales, Anita (2001). "Sunset Heights Preserves History". Borderlands. 20.
  4. ^ Rivers, Claudia (15 June 2010). "Satterthwaite, John Fisher". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  5. ^ Holguin, Robert. "Secret of Sunset Heights". KFOX. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  6. ^ a b Hudnall, Ken (2012-12-27). "The remnants of tunnels under El Paso's streets tell the origins of human smuggling". Borderzine. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  7. ^ Corchado, Alfredo. "Families, businesses flee Juárez for U.S. pastures." The Dallas Morning News. Sunday March 7, 2010. Retrieved on March 10, 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Sunset Heights Neighborhood". Mountain Trail Region. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  9. ^ Gray, Robert (20 July 2009). "History and MysteryTrost home in Sunset Heights for sale". El Paso Inc. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  10. ^ a b Design Guidelines for El Paso's Historic Districts, Sites, and Properties. El Paso, Texas: City of El Paso. pp. 9–10.
  11. ^ a b c d Yoffe 1986, p. 201.
  12. ^ "2019-2020 Feeder Pattern" (PDF). El Paso Independent School District. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  13. ^ Fischer, Steve (October 5, 2017). "Sunset Heights offers tour of history: Steve Fischer column". El Paso Times. Retrieved September 26, 2018.


External linksEdit