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133 E. Weber - Hotel Stockton
It could be argued that the Hotel Stockton is one of
California's finest examples of a large commercial Mission Revival style
It ranks closely with the Mission Inn in Riverside, as well as the commercial buildings in Santa Barbara. The Hotel was apparently the first reinforced concrete buildings In the central valley Opening in 1910, the Hotel remained one of the most luxurious hotels in Stockton tor many years. The building had the largest public fireplace in California, second only to one In Yosemite Valley. Additionally, the building had the first enclosed caged elevator in the Central Valley. A roof garden was added in 1912.
Designed by well-known architect E. B. Brown of New York, the Hotel was centrally located between the deep water channel and downtown Stockton. The Hotel's West Side Annex housed City offices after the City's lease expired in the Second County Courthouse soon after the hotel was constructed: The Hotel Stockton ceased operations in November, 1960. While the interior has undergone several remodels, the exterior retains most of its original character.
The building is still a striking landmark within. downtown Stockton and retains a great deal of integrity.
The Hotel Stockton had a wide variety of businesses in its ground level. According to Stockton City Directories, by 1935, these included an Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad ticket office, cigar shop, coffee shop, buffet, barber, Day & Night Drug Store, liquor store, dancing instructor, and stenographer. By 1940, these were joined by a women's clothier. The 1945 Directory noted the addition of a realtor, accountant, and duplicating machine company. By 1950, a sporting goods store, beauty shop, and new restaurant had opened their doors in the Hotel Stockton.
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HISTORY OF THE HOTEL STOCKTON
From The San Joaquin Historical Society, 1966.
Sometimes one small incident will trigger a huge project. Such was the case
in the construction of the Hotel Stockton. Lee A. Phillips, who was in the process
of developing some of the rich farm land surrounding the city, invited 50 Southern
California capitalists to visit the area with the thought he could interest them in
investing in the area. Much to his chagrin there were no adequate hotel facilities
for the guests and they were obliged to be quartered on the train which brought them
Through Mr. Phillips efforts a group of young men, active and successful in
their businesses, who had the respect of the community, formed the Stockton
Investment Company on February 26, 1903. They incorporated with capital stock of $240,000
to be sold at $24 a share. An office was opened with en operating budget of $400
and stock was offered for sale. At the first Meeting of the investment company
$15,000 was subscribed and there were such names on the certificates as West,
Thompson, Colvin, Hurdle, Ryland, Frankenheimer, Guernsey, Simpson and Peters.
It was agreed that no site would be selected until the money was pledged. It
was a trying and disheartening struggle in the infancy of the plans but by
perseverance and faith at last $274,000 was subscribed by 275 persons and the company
bonded itself for $200,000. Architects were hired, the land known as Weber's Hole
was selected for the site and construction began in 1907. The site, 100 x 300 feet
had long been an eyesore in the center of the town, and its use had been confined to
circuses, tent Shows, traveling evangelists and a huge mud hole in the rainy season.
Those involved decided the building should be worthy of Stockton's importance as
a commercial city of the future and selectee. a Spanish Mission style of architecture.
This was the first reinforced concrete building in the area. It 1m3 to be a
substantial structure, well appointed, with the most modern conveniences of the time and
should appeal mainly to the men as there was little hotel usage oy the women in
A description of the original construction stated there would be 200 guest rooms
with 143 connecting baths, a spacious lobby with a baronial fireplace, cool inviting
roof garden, large ballroom, mezzanine lofts, a massive and imposing dining room off
the lobby and a men's grill. The latter to have comfortable chairs, fireplace,
huntsman's fixtures, beamed ceiling, English tavern atmosphere and telephones at
each table. Rates would be $1.00 per day without bath, $2.00 for sample rooms with
bed and bath for the many traveling drummers of the day.
The magnitude of the construction job, the floods of 1907 and 1909 caused many
delays but the opening date was finally set for early in 1910. However, it was not
until May 26, 1910 that the new hostelry was opened for business officially. Prior
to completion the State Association of Supervisors Convention was scheduled for
Stockton and a number of rooms were hurriedly furnished, the kitchens stocked, a
skeleton staff brought in and the supervisors were housed and fed.
The lot and building cost $500,000 and $75,000 was spent on furnishings. The
music gallery was located so that it could serve both dining areas. The roof garden
was enclosed with glass and its flower and vine covered trellises and tinkling fountain
was ready for lunches, teas and evening discourse and amusement. The furnishings were considered elegant for the time and the best of china, crystal and silver
were purchased. There was a spacious kitchen and a fully stocked wine cellar.
Don H. Porter, the first lessee, brought a French chef and the maitre 'd from
the East along with their assistants. Wine steward, waiters in full regalia, bus
boys and chambermaids in white garb and bell boys in red uniforms completed the
staff. It was quoted that all were highly skilled in their separate categories.
The formal banquet for the stockholders on May 25 was attended by 200 persons.
The reception was held in the spacious lobby, the banquet lasted 3 hours and was
followed by speeches. Prof. Andrew Blossom's orchestra played from the mezzanine,
Frank Thornton Smith was vocalist and R. B. Oullahan was the toastmaster. To quote
in part from Mr. Oullahan" The occasion marked the opening of Stockton's growth
and progress. The past has been shrouded in inactivity. Stockton no longer is a
cow pasture by the sloughs. The city is like Rip Van Winkle arising from a long
sleep. Merchants and business and professional men must pull together instead of
each one thinking only of himself." He urged the lighting of the court house and
Hunter Square, paving of the downtown streets, installation of street lighting and
predicted that the 30,000 population of the area would increase to 100,000 in ten
The sumptuousness of the banquet has never been exceeded. The printed menu
read as follows: Radishes, celery, olives and salted almonds. Green turtle soup,
cheese sticks and sherry. Filet of sole, tiny potato balls and sauterne. Mignon
of beef, peas, cabernet, chicken and burgundy. Squab and Julienne potatoes, salad
Diplomat. Clysmic with biscuits, cigars, cigarettes, bon bons, petit fours, cheese,
crackers, coffee and cognac.
In 1910 the lease was taken over by Mr. A. I. Wagner, who was operating a number
of smaller hotels in the city. He was assisted by his wife, the charming Annie
Edwards Wagner, and the couple soon became noted as superior hosts and the hotel
for its excellent cuisine.
1910 saw the appearance of such notables as Sarah Bernhardt, Maude Adams,
Lillian Russell, Billie Burke, John Drew, David Warfield, and DeWolfe Hopper
appearing at the Yosemite Theatre. Performances were always followed by a supper for the
star and cast and local theatre goers. All mingled during the supper period and the
informal conversation that followed.
Hiram Johnson, campaigning for the governorship, headquartered at the hotel
that year and Carrie Nation, hearing that Stockton was rife with saloons and houses
of prostitution, made one of her famous appearances here. Though she did not wield
the hatchet she carried she did sell miniature ones to finance her campaign against
the demon rum.
Under the management of the Wagners, the Hotel Stockton became the locale for
teas, luncheons, dinner clubs, and musicals as well as regular trade that came for
breakfast, lunch and dinner. Service organizations made the hotel their headquarters
and the graduating class of Stockton High School in 1910 held its reception and
banquet on the premises. Grace Gage West opened her dancing school in the ballroom
and piano teachers held the recitals here. After the death of her husband in 1921,
Mrs. Wagner and her son-in-law, Frank Guernsey, continued the operation of the hotel
until 1935. It continued to be the center for social functions, community, fraternal
and convention affairs. Later Jack Beatty of Modesto took over the management and
from the period 1950-61 he was followed by George Ernest. Competition of motels and
other hotels, parking problems and high rising costs of maintenance forced the closing of the hostelry from its original purpose. In 1961 it became the interim Court
House during construction of the new edifice and subsequently was taken over by the
Welfare Department which occupies all but the ground floor and a few offices in the
annex. The future of the building is unknown but it is rumored that the Welfare
Department expects to expand on the present site and that eventually, should they
have their own quarters, the space will be needed for additional County offices.