Heinrich and Hannah Neilson established a hotel, bar and restaurant,
that was to become known as the National Hotel. The two wooden
buildings were among the first permanent structures in this early
(1848) gold-rush town of Jamestown. Earlier establishments were mostly
tent and non-permanent wooden structures. The National Hotel has been
in continuous operation from this date having survived two damaging
fires in 1901 and 1927.
1901 destroyed several blocks of Jamestown, but only damaged the
National Hotel. Fire in 1927 destroyed the Forester Hall, located next
door, and severely damaged the National Hotel, which had to then be
remodeled. Today’s restoration work was begun in 1974 by present owners
and has been ongoing some 32 years later.
Prohibition, the National Hotel was raided several times. as read in
The Union Democrat of January 5, 1927, which stated that government
agents were looking for liquor. Agents seized; 9 - 50 gallon barrels of
wine, 1 - 100 gallon barrel of wine, 1 - demijohn of wine, 2 - 10
gallon kegs of brandy and corn whiskey. Owner, Joe Graziano was fined
prostitution was conducted here until the late 1930's and gambling
including slot machines until 1949.
original back bar is still utilized today and a working cash register
dating to 1881 is also in view, although it is handicapped by the fact
that a maximum of $6.95 can be rung at any one time. Much of the wood
wainscoting which is visible throughout the building is original,
although it was originally built as floor to ceiling wall paneling.
shaft remains at the rear of the garden courtyard, although it is
covered and usually full of water. Someday, we may open it and add a
was added to the individual rooms of the hotel in 1979-80. Prior to
this, during the 1920's, an exterior building was added, which
contained a single bathroom, with toilet, sink and bathtub, to service
the hotel rooms.
restoration work was begun in 1974 by present owners and has been
ongoing some 32 years later.
of 1974, The National Hotel was purchased by Stephen Willey, his
brother, Michel Willey, and a friend, Donald Hazelwood. While the bar
and hotel had functioned continuously from its beginning, the
restaurant was not open, and had not been fully utilized since 1946.
Requirements by the State ABC department and the local health
department, as well as the building department, made it imperative that
the kitchen be gutted, and the dining room totally restored. Thus began
the slow process of restoration. With limited funds, and thus providing
the labor themselves, the restaurant was reopened in September 1975,
with an emphasis on Italian family style dining. By October 1976 the
operation was expanded to include lunches.
time, the hotel had 12 rooms, some of which were occupied by monthly
tenants at the favorable rate of $60 per month, which included
utilities and twice weekly housekeeping service.
restoration had begun on the hotel rooms, although only 2-3 rooms were
worked on at a time. This restoration included: plumbing, carpentry,
electrical, insulation, soundproofing, drywall, wallpaper and
carpeting. When the rooms were finished by 1980, the hotel included 11
rooms, of which 6 had private baths and 5 shared two bathrooms. Each of
these five rooms had basins in their rooms. At this time, the National
Hotel began operating as a bed and breakfast hotel, although the
continental breakfast initially left a little to be desired. By the
1990's, it was evident that “shared baths” were no longer in “vogue”.
It was decided to reduce the number of rooms to 9, and add bathrooms to
each of the remaining rooms.
mid-1980's, it was decided to rebuild the front balcony of the National
Hotel. Old photos were consulted and renderings made. Finally, blue
prints were taken to a redwood mill near the town of Mendicino, from
which all the materials were constructed and shipped to Jamestown. It
took approximately two weeks for the contractors to reconstruct the
balcony. Over the next several years, redwood, kiln-dried ship-lap
siding was applied to the front and then the patio side of the hotel.
Eventually, Anderson windows were brought in, as well as a number of
other improvements that helped to conserve energy, at the same time,
maintaining the historic ambiance of the hotel.
mid-1990's, it was decided to rebuild the bar floor and the bar and
dining room front entrances. Therefore, in the middle of Winter, the
entire first floor of the front was ripped out, bar floor pulled up,
and all rebuilt with in two weeks, by a speedy and very competent crew.
years of 2000-2005, most of the restoration work, which is generally
done in the winter, was concentrated in the two dining rooms and the
bar. Take a look at the brass coated ceiling in the bar, if you have
the chance. Current wallpaper, carpeting, ambient lighting, etc., was a
result of this work.
is yet to be done, and includes: completion of fire sprinkler systems,
making all that we can, to be more ADA compliant and future work on
lower floor bathrooms.
resident ghost, Flo, is a friendly ghost known for harmless pranks and
The current owner, Stephen Willey, has been hearing stories of her
the National Hotel's Friendly Ghost
generally stays upstairs in the hotel, seemingly favoring the rooms in
the front of the building although she has, on occasion, been seen
early in the morning downstairs, floating through the dining room and
right through the walls.
guest rooms has a notebook which welcomes guests to share their
experiences and comments. There are numerous accounts of doors
slamming, lights going on and off, clothing being dumped from suitcases
onto the floor, and a woman's sobbing coming from the hallway in the
middle of the night. Whoever she is, she adds a little extra spice to
all our lives. Many a non-believer has left here with a whole new
attitude. Our housekeepers say they have gone into rooms only to be
greeted by icy cold air within the room even though the heater was
following is the result of some research by a local writer.
yourself and you decide.
the railroad arrived in Jamestown. John Davies came west from
Massachusetts to work on that railroad in 1895. Back in Quincy, John's
parents had died and he had money troubles and couldn't find work. This
was why he responded to a poster in Boston about working on the
railroad. Leaving his fiancé, he promised to send for her as
soon as enough money had been saved.
in San Francisco in 1895 anxious to begin work and headed towards the
Sierra Nevada foothills where it was said he could find work on a
railroad headed for the foothills. He soon worked his way up to being a
track-laying foreman and wrote his fiancé back in Quincy and
said that when the train reached its ending in Jamestown he would send
for her and they would have a small house as he had been promised an
engineer's position at the terminus.
year later, the train reached Jamestown, but Davies was not present.
Railroad records only mention that Davies didn't show up for work one
day. He was never seen again. Journal entries show that one of the
people to which Davies owed money was a criminal in Boston. It isn't
known if Davies ever sent the gangster money or not. However, it was
reported that two tough-looking men had arrived on a ship in San
Francisco and were asking questions about the railroad and, in
particular, John Davies. It was just a short time later that Davies
disappeared. Some believe he had gone into hiding while others thought
that he must have left the country. Those who knew of his love for a
girl in Quincy felt that they had gone away together.
track was laid into Jamestown, a young woman arrived in town and took a
room at Jamestown's National Hotel on Main Street. Her name is unknown
as a later fire in the early 1900s destroyed all records. However,
people remembered that the woman went to the Sierra Railway station
every day asking the railroad workers about John Davies. She could be
heard during the night sobbing in her room.
discovered any information about Davies' whereabouts and her visits to
the train station grew further and further apart until she almost never
left her room. At night, she was often seen walking through the halls.
No purpose was ever discovered as to why she did this. About four weeks
after her arrival, the innkeeper found her body laying on the bed. A
piece of paper lay on the small nightstand that read, "John Dearest, I
love you so much and will never give up searching for you." She didn't
sign the note and her death was a mystery. The local doctor just said
that her heart stopped and that there was nothing else wrong with her.
she died of a broken heart as some claim? Was Davies missing or dead?
Does this mystery woman still roam the hallways of the National Hotel
searching for her lost love? Is she the ghost which hotel employees
endearingly call 'Flo'?
Jamestown Ca. National Hotel
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