Now that I am back in California, I have been looking around with an eye for what is interesting and not quite ordinary here. When you return to your home, the area looks ordinary. How can that be when so many people flock here and come back again and again?
Since my return, I’ve been to San Francisco at least 4 times. Trip #1 was to the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. This hotel has a wonderful history. Tess and Virginia Fair were James Fair’s daughters and they wanted to build a monument to their father who died in 1902.
In the 1850’s, James Flood and William S. O’Brien were partners in a saloon on Washington Street in San Francisco. This was in the early years of California’s gold rush. San Francisco was being settled and gold was being discovered in “them there hills”. Flood and O’Brien were making a decent sum of money by listening to the miners who came to their establishment and in investing in mining stocks. Then Mr. James Fair approached Flood about lending him and his partner, Mr. John MacKay money to buy out the Comstock mine. They were sure that this was going to be the real deal. Flood decided to invest with the two miners. As it turned out, the mine did really really well and the 4 men became fabulously wealthy. The initial investment was about $100,000 and by the 1870’s the mine produced at least $133,471,000.00 in silver ore. Remember these are 1870’s dollars.
So back to the hotel; In 1902, construction began on the Fairmont Hotel. By 1906, it had become too much of a project for the Fair sisters. They sold the hotel to Herbert and Hartland Law who were brothers, in exchange for two office buildings at Mission and New Montgomery streets. A few days later, the earth shook and much of San Francisco was destroyed by the earthquake and resulting fire. The newly completed hotel did not fall down as did many of the surrounding buildings and there was very little damage from the earthquake. But then the city started to burn. The fire made its way up to Nob Hill and the Fairmont was not spared. Flames appeared at the windows.
The brothers had a lot invested in the new hotel so they went ahead with plans to repair, redecorate and restore the building they had just bought. Their choice for a new architect was the famed Stanford White, from New York. But alas, he was killed and they needed someone else. They finally found Julia Morgan, who was the first woman graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. One year later, the hotel opened to the public. Many wealthy families who had been displaced by the earthquake took up residence here, some for many years. Turn of the century charm and 20th century modernization has made this a world class and amazingly beautiful hotel. The views from the tower rooms are spectacular.
You can see how beautiful the city looks from the Crown room on the top floor of the tower. Through the windows you have a sweeping 270-degree panorama of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, Downtown and the Twin Peaks.
That is because my daughter has decided that this will be the perfect place for her fall wedding. I’m sure there will be more about that later. Don’t you think this staircase will make a great place for wedding photos?