Holbrooke Hotel, Grass Valley

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Horse drawn carriages and covered wagons carried new settlers to the Gold Country. The town was alive with excitement as each person was convinced he would strike it rich any moment in the rivers or in the mines. Their aim was a life of ease - comfortable elegance of the Victorian era in the midst of a rustic life.

To meet the needs of the early miners and settlers, Stephen and Clara Smith built the Golden Gate Saloon and the Adams Express Office. Both wooden structures were destroyed by fire in 1855, as was most of Grass Valley. The Smiths rebuilt the saloon as a one-story fieldstone building with a brick facade, making it safer from the threat of fire. In 1862, Charles Smith, a relative, built the present structure, calling it the Exchange Hotel, noted for its convenience to the Gold Exchange. Like other buildings of its time, the Hotel was fortified against fire damage with heavy iron doors, brick, and a foot deep layer of dirt and broken brick on the roof.

In 1879, the Hotel was purchased by Ellen and Daniel P. Holbrooke and retains their name today. Mr. Holbrooke died in 1884 and Mrs. Holbrooke continued to operate and manage the Hotel until 1908. Elizabeth and Oeter Josnson purcahsed the Hotel at public auction in 1908, and in 1922 their daughters Lily J. Cory and Sadie P. Finnie, inherited the Hotel. After Sadies's death, in 195, the Hotel was sold to Emma and Harold Moneyhun.

Mrs. Arletta Douglas, a longtime resident of Nevada County, "discovered" the Hotel in 1971 while working eith the Grass Valley business community on a downtown beautification project. While inspecting the worn building, Mrs. Douglas realized that the Holbrooke, through in disrepair, was worth saving. Led by her efforts, concerned citizens began working on the salvation and restoration of the Hotel.

Though Mrs. Douglas sold the hotel in 1980, the restoration continued. In 1982, the refurbishment of the guest rooms was completed and in 1983, the Holbrooke acquired the adjacent Historic Purcell House. In 1989, the ownership once again changed and the Holbrooke continued to a vital center for the Grass Valley community.

Through the years the Holbrooke Hotel has hosted some of the most famous names in California and U.S. history. Guest books, preserved and displayed in the Hotel today, include the signatures of Presidents Harrison and Cleveland along with the signatures of heavyweight champion boxers "Gentleman" Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons. Other famous guests known to the Holbrooke were Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and the infamous Black Bart. And, not to be forgotten, are Lola Montez, Lotta Crabtree and Emma Nevada who each contributed exciting and enticing entertainment for the guests and local residents alike!

Today, all facets of the Holbrooke are operational. Combining the 17 rooms in the main building and the 11 rooms in the Purcell House, the Hotel has 29 unique guest rooms. Each room is named for a famous person associated with the history of the hotel or for one of the local gold mines which made the area famous. The Holbrooke has an exceptional restaurant which servies lunch and dinner and special Holiday Buffets and Brunches. Meeting and banquet facilities as well as catering are available. The historic Golden Gate Saloon with its ornate Italian mahogany and marble bar back continues in operation, preserving the Hotel's spirit and the excitement of the early visitors and settlers. Indeed, the Holbrooke Hotel continues as a comfortable, elegant destination.

Destination Properties LLC
Michael Bullis (mbullis@destinationproperties.com)