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Historic Inns in California

Ring in the Holidays with Specials and Packages

CABBI Cookbook Recipe: Croissant French Toast with Spiced Apples, Pears and Cranberries

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  Featured inns

 
Moonstone Cottages
  Moonstone Cottages by the Sea
Cambria, CA

 
Old Monterey Inn
  Old Monterey Inn
Monterey, CA
 


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cabbi Bookmark and ShareNovember 2012

historic inns

Historic Inns in California

Pioneer settlers, gold rush-era miners, lumber barons and other entrepreneurs have left an indelible mark on California’s history and given rise to some of the state’s most enduring homes and structures.  Many of the historic buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and some have been converted to bed and breakfast inns.

cosmopolitan hotelSoon after pioneer settler Juan Bandini finished building his family’s thatch-roofed adobe home in 1829, it became the social center of San Diego. After his death in 1869, stage master Albert Seeley purchased the home converted a portion of it into the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which became a fashionable venue for parties and dances as well as overnight guests.  183 years later, the hotel has returned as a vibrant addition to Old Town San Diego.  A $6.5 million dollar restoration was completed in 2010, and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant—which is the oldest surviving building in San Diego— has been returned to its historic appearance as the 1869 Cosmopolitan Hotel, fulfilling a 50-year goal of historians and many San Diegans to restore the 19th-century landmark and recapture some of San Diego’s most important architectural legacy. The Cosmopolitan Hotel is considered to be one of the most important 19th-century buildings in the state; few other buildings in the state rival its scale (over 10,000 sq. ft.), blending 19th-century Mexican adobe and American wood-framing construction techniques.  As the only hotel in San Diego’s Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the hotel brims with a luxurious vintage ambience.  Each of the guest rooms are furnished with antiques matching those in the original manifests ordered by Seeley for the Cosmopolitan in 1869.  Only now, the rooms all have private baths and WiFi.

sorensen resortSorensen’s Resort lies in Hope Valley near Carson Pass, along what was once a trail for thousands of gold rush pioneers that came to California with dreams of getting rich.  Ruts from wagon wheels and pioneer gravesites are remnants from the trail that still remain.  The Sorensen family, which were of Danish descent, homesteaded 165 acres in Hope Valley in the late 1800s and built basic lodgings for travelers in the eastern edge of the Sierra.  Many of the original cabins have been refurbished and remain a part of Sorensen’s Resort today.  Additional log cabins have built over the years and the resort continues to provide year-round lodging for adventurers wanting to hike, bike, fish, snowshoe, cross-country ski, or just unwind in a hammock. 

groveland hotelThe Groveland Hotel is the largest of four adobe buildings in Groveland and is one of the oldest buildings in Tuolumne County. The Groveland Hotel’s 1849 adobe has a high degree of integrity having undergone few alterations during its lifetime. It displays splendid craftsmanship, and may be the only example of the Monterey Colonial architectural style located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The building was one of the first permanent structures in the mining camp then known as Garrote. Until 1875, Groveland was known as “Garrote,” which translates loosely to “hanging”-- a deed for which the town was once infamous. The structure was first used as a trading post, owned and operated by Joshua D. Crippen and Company. The property was later owned and operated as the “Garrote Hotel” by Matthew Foote, a prospector who arrived during the Gold Rush.  In 1875, it became known as The Groveland Hotel when the name of the town was changed. By 1914, the mining industry had lapsed into an irreversible decline and a second chapter for the Groveland Hotel began. The City and County of San Francisco had begun construction on its ambitious Hetch Hetchy Dam Project and the high influx of workers had created a critical housing shortage. The hotel was purchased by Timothy H. Carlon, a successful cattle rancher, who hired a San Francisco architect and some local contractors to complete a new annex building and a renovation of the adobe building. The 1914 annex was a Neoclassical frame structure with Queen Anne Revival style elements.  The Hetch Hetchy Project brought another period of prosperity to Groveland for the next 15 years and the Groveland Hotel became well known for its parties and dances. Since then, the Groveland Hotel has continued with a colorful history. Present owners Peggy and Grover Mosley purchased the hotel in 1990 and completed a million dollar restoration in 1992. The hotel today has 17 guest rooms, an elegant Victorian dining room and a cozy, authentic, gold rush “saloon.” The Mosleys have worked to preserve the historical integrity of the hotel and both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

hotel charlotteThe Hotel Charlotte in Groveland is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Charlotte DeFerrari, the hotel’s namesake and builder, was born in Genoa, Italy in 1881. Her family migrated to the California gold fields when she was sixteen years old. During this era, Groveland went from boom to bust and back again. The gold rush and then the San Francisco Hetch-Hetchy water project brought prosperity and notoriety to the Groveland and Big Oak Flat settlements.  Shortly after arriving in Groveland, Charlotte's father was killed in a mining accident at Hardin Flat, and young Charlotte was left as the sole provider to her younger siblings and mother. Young, single, and ambitious, she built the hotel in 1921 on the site of an old livery stable, and purchased the Gem Saloon next door, annexing it to the Hotel Charlotte as a restaurant. The newest owners, Doug and Jenn Edwards, purchased the Hotel Charlotte in March 2012. The Edwards have retained the old gold-rush feel of the hotel while also working to modernize, simplify and “go green”. The sage green walls, throwback Edison light bulbs, and oversized, brown velvet sofas invite guests to step into a contemporary old west. 

Inn at Locke HouseIn 1849, Dean Jewett Locke skipped his commencement exercises at Harvard Medical College to accept the position of doctor for the Boston Newton Company’s trek to Sacramento City and Gold Country.  He and his brother ventured out to the mining camps along the American River and eventually the Mokelumne.  The young physician was taken with the beauty of the region and purchased ranch land for what would later become Lockeford.  Between 1863 and 1865, Locke and his wife replaced their small, two-story New England style cottage with an airy, fourteen-room, three-story, neo-Georgian style brick house and three-level water tower.  Having no source for bricks, Locke established a brick making facility and kiln just down the road from his ranch. In 1882, the main house was connected to the tank house with a two-story wing and carriage way.  During the Civil War, the brick-rammed earth barn was headquarters for the Mokelumne Light Dragoons.  (Their armoires now serve as closets in the Main House rooms.)  Dr. Locke donated land for the establishment of three churches and the community school.  He gave property for a railroad depot site as well as financing purchase of railroad cars to establish Lockeford as a major stop on the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Railroad.  Upon the death of his widow, the remaining Locke properties were apportioned to the Locke children.  Theresa Locke Thorp and her sister Hannah inherited the Locke Homestead.  Theresa’s son, noted aeronautical engineer and aircraft designer John Thorp, purchased Hannah’s portion of the property to assure a home for his then-widowed mother.  In the 1960’s John and Kathryn Thorp moved his aircraft workshop from Southern California into the barn and started rehabilitation of the severely deteriorated property.  In 1972, the property was named a California Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  After John passed away, his widow asked Richard Eklund (whom John had mentored in aeronautical engineering) and his wife Lani to move from Alexandria, Virginia to save John’s ancestral home and promote his aeronautical legacy.  In 1992, the Eklunds, with their daughter Kerri, began a six-year restoration, renovation and rehabilitation of the house into a bed and breakfast inn, the Inn at Locke House.  Keeping their promise to John’s widow, John’s memorabilia and aircraft designs were integral to the development of the inn. 

brannancottageSam Brannan, the founder of Calistoga, believed that the area’s natural hot springs would be the perfect place to build a spa resort town. After purchasing 1,000 acres in 1858, Brannan began to build a resort for the elite of San Francisco.  He built 25 cottages, a hotel, dance pavilion, horse race track, store, bath house, observatory, dining hall and other buildings to accommodate his vision of a resort based on the legendary hot springs of Saratoga Springs, New York.  Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent his honeymoon at the resort, wrote about the cottages in his 1883 travel memoir, The Silverado Squatters.  Only three of the original 25 cottages are still standing in Calistoga.  One was moved and is now attached to the Sharpsteen Museum of Calistoga History, the second was moved to Cedar Street and is being used as a residential home and the third now is the main building at Brannan Cottage Inn; it is the only cottage still standing in its original location.  The cottage is distinguished by its intricate gingerbread, gable-board and scalloped ridge cresting and a broad wraparound porch. The cottage was restored in the 1980s by Scott and Jan Sofie, who secured its listing among the National Register of Historic Places and turned it into a bed and breakfast. The current owners, Doug and Judy Cook, purchased the inn in 2004.

churchill manorEdward Churchill and his wife, Mary, moved to Napa from Rochester, New York in 1878, when he became the cashier of the James H. Goodman Bank (which would later become Bank of America).  He and Mary built Churchill Manor in 1889.  At nearly 10,000 square feet, Churchill Manor was reputedly the largest home in the Napa Valley at the time.  Times were good for the early aristocrats. The Napa River was an active steamship route, and San Franciscans would sail up the Napa River to attend large parties at the Churchill Manor. Churchill also owned the Golden Ribbon Beer Company and the Tokalon Vineyard near Rutherford.  He died suddenly in 1903, when, in a flu-induced delirious state, he mistakenly drank from a bottle of carbolic acid. His wife and daughter continued to live at the Manor and then later, his granddaughter, Dorothy.  It is rumored that the family suffered financially during the Depression and Prohibition. The granddaughter began to take on boarders and rent the beautiful mansion out for weddings. The residence left the Churchill family in 1956. The next several tenants included the Napa State Hospital, a commune and a group of male college students.  The mansion, however, was falling apart, and plans were made to tear it down for apartments. Horrified preservationists went to work to save it, and the Churchill Manor became the first Napa residence to be placed on the National Registry.  A Hawaiian couple bought the mansion in the 1980s, intending to refurbish it for use as a bed and breakfast inn, but the project turned into more than they could handle.  Current owners Brian Jensen and Joanna Guidotti saw an ad for the inn with the caption, “Want to own a mansion?  Price reduced to avoid foreclosure.”  They closed escrow on Churchill Manor on New Year’s Eve of 1987 and worked to restore the mansion year by year as they turned it into a successful business.   

honor mansionThe Honor Mansion in Healdsburg was built in 1883 by William S. Butcher, a wealthy cattle rancher who acquired the first of his fortune during the gold rush.  He had been transporting a load of pot-bellied stoves, which he intended to sell to gold miners, when the weight of the heavy load collapsed his wagon and exposed a rich vein of gold in the road underneath it.  He filed his claim and used the money to purchase land near Vacaville for raising cattle.  He later moved to Healdsburg and built the imposing Italianate mansion so that his four daughters could attend Seventh Day Adventist College.  One of his daughters, Berthas married a rancher, Henry Honor, and their son, Herbert Clyde Honor, became a medical doctor who practiced in Sonoma County.  Herbert and his wife Vera, who was also a doctor, worked as medical missionaries in the Philippines, but during World War II, they were held as Japanese prisoners of war for ten months.  In 1958, they returned to Healdsburg, moved into the mansion and resumed practicing medicine out of a small addition to the mansion. The Honors later remodeled the home into three apartments. One unit provided living quarters for them and the other two provided income.  The Butcher and Honor families lived in the mansion continually for 108 years.  Steve and Cathi Fowler purchased the inn in the 1990s and after a whirlwind six-month restoration effort, opened Honor Mansion as a bed and breakfast inn.  The stately inn now has 13 guest rooms on nearly four acres with two bocce ball courts, croquet, a PGA putting green, tennis and basketball court. 

gables wine country innThe Gables Wine Country Inn was built in 1877 four miles south of what is now Santa Rosa, CA and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The high Victorian gothic revival architecture with French gothic details is highlighted by 13 gables over the second floor windows.  Every window features the same unique keyhole shape, an accent that extends to the exterior doors and some interior doors and archways.  The original shutters also have the same keyhole design.  These features give the Gables its architectural significance.  The homestead was originally settled in the early 1850s by William Roberts, who later married Mary Jane Gephart of Ohio.  Roberts became a successful farmer and rancher.  One of two original redwood barns, circa 1850, remains on the property.  An original cottage, believed to have been a bunkhouse, now serves as a detached guest room.  It was the birth place of the Roberts' child, who was born 1870. The original outhouse still stands behind the cottage. 

elk cove innElk Cove Inn & Spa offers a glimpse of the golden age of lumber production on the Northern California coast.  In 1890, the L.E. White Lumber Company mill was in full swing and Elk’s population had swelled to over 1,000.  The town had 14 saloons, four dance halls, a barber, butcher shop, creamery and several busy brothels. Mill production steadily increased to 100,000 board feet per day.  In 1893, the owner of the lumber company built an executive guest house on the bluff overlooking the millpond to accommodate visiting buyers while they negotiated the purchases that helped to build San Francisco, and then rebuild the city after the Great Earthquake of 1906.  The house is now the Elk Cove Inn & Spa.  In 1968, a 27-year-old German woman, Hildren Uta-Triebess opened the Elk Cove Inn as the first small bed and breakfast on the Mendocino coast.  The inn offers seven rooms in the historic mansion along with four cottages and four luxury suites plus an on-site day spa. 

martine innThe Martine Inn in Pacific Grove is the restored main house of James Parke of Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals. The Parke Family Compound originally covered two and a half city blocks with four buildings and 59 rooms.  Today, the Martine Inn comprises two of the original buildings and two additional Victorian buildings.  The main building was constructed in the 1880s and houses 14 guest rooms, the library, conference room, parlor, dining room, pool room, office, kitchen, sitting rooms and the ping pong room.  The Carriage House has six guest rooms and was constructed in the early 1900s.  The Gabled House was constructed in 1887 and has three guest rooms. The Cottage has three guest rooms, plus the MG Display and was constructed in 1902.  The buildings had fallen into disrepair and were scheduled for demolition when Don Martine purchased the Parke Family Compound in 1972.  He spent the next 14 years restoring and updating the buildings, including installing new plumbing, heating systems, electrical wiring, and refurbishing the exteriors.  The Martine Inn opened its doors in August 1984. Each room is filled with genuine, museum-quality American antiques to recreate the home of an affluent person from the early 1900s. The inn prides itself on the details, including the Victorian silver service presented at breakfast which offers warm spoons for coffee or tea from an 1880s spoon warmer.  

lavender innOriginally built in 1874, The Lavender Inn was the first schoolhouse for the town of Nordoff, which later became Ojai. Over the years, it has transitioned from a schoolhouse to a private home to community center to a hotel.  For a period during the 1930s and 40s, the inn was home to the town’s mayor, Alton Lucius Drown and his family.  His granddaughter, Marion, recently visited The Lavender Inn as a guest.  Marion described where each of her family members slept and remembered soaking their sheets in the bathtub when the summer temperatures were too hot.  She also remembered the latticework and front flower garden where her grandmother used to work.  The wellness center next door to the inn used to be a pasture where she kept her horse.  The horse would follow Marion to school and wait for her until she was ready to walk home.  The current owners of the Lavender Inn, Kathy and Mark Hartley, are passionate about restoring and preserving historic buildings. The inn was named a historic landmark by the City of Ojai in 2008.



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