The Stoneman House, as seen through the Mariposa Gazette
- Part One -
Submitted by Tom Phillips-Feb 2003
[The following is a collection of newspaper articles from the Mariposa Gazette concerning the Stoneman House]
March 14th 1885
The Governor has signed the bill appropriating $40,000 to build a hotel in Yosemite Valley. It was thought by some that he would not sign it. There were better reasons for him to have vetoed this measure than the $25,000 appropriation by the Legislature two years ago; but he has become more liberal now.
An exchange says: What a good thing it is that the Legislature sits in Winter. Now its members cannot go on a visit of inspection to that new State Hotel in Yosemite.
July 13th, 1885
MEETING OF YOSEMITE COMMISIONERS
On Wednesday, June 3d, at 10 A. M. the Board of Commissioners met in Yosemite Valley, Governor Stoneman, presiding, Commissioner Raymond, Briggs, Griffith, Mentzer, Chapman and Madden were present; O’Brien and Mills were absent. After reading and approving minutes of previous meeting, it was declared in order to receive complaints, application, etc. in writing. Numerous applications for privileges and several charges and complaints were read and placed on file. The following are a few of the applications: For carriage and saddle train business, C. Coffman and Kenny, A, Harris. A. H. Washburn, H. Stegman, Galen Clark and others; for privilege to exhibit and sell specimens and curiosities, John Blomgren and J. A. Anderson; for blacksmith privilege, G. W. Harlow; for studio, C. D. Robinson; the artist, for consent to remove studio to higher ground, the artist Hill; for burial site, Galen Clarke; for reduction of hotel rent, J. J. Cook. Various other propositions were submitted and referred to sub-committees.
W. E. Dennison was re-elected Guardian of the Valley, and Steve Cunningham retained as Guardian of the Big Tree Grove. At 1 P.M., the Board went into Executive session, which excluded all spectators. This secret session excited universal condemnation because it was known that the law governing the Board provides as follows: "All meetings of the Board of Yosemite Commissioners shall, at all time be open to the public." (See page 212, Amendments and Statutes of 1885) All the important business was done in secret session.
On Thursday, June 4th, at 1 P.M. a public session was held and the minutes of the entire meeting were read.
Coffman & Kenny were granted the saddle-train, carriage and livery business for four years at $1,200 per annum. Galen Clark was granted the privilege to occupy the premises heretofore occupied by him; to act as guide; to use and hire one carriage and one saddle-horse, and to select and improve a burial site for himself. A warrant was also drawn in his favor of $750 in satisfaction of services done and expenditure made by him while Guardian of the Valley.
J. K. Barnard's hotel was reduced to $200; J. J. Cook's hotel rent reduced conditionally.
Application of Washburn, Harris, Stegman and Blomgren refused. Harlow's application for blacksmith granted: Applications of Robinson and Hill, artists, granted.
Complaint of Frank Contreras against forcible seizure of his personal property in Cosmopolitan Saloon, ignored, Washburn's claim for $540 for transporting the President Hayes party in 1860, rejected. This service was performed at the order of the Executive Committee of the Commissioners, and the same bill now rejected was approved by the Executive Committee some years ago. The claim of the Estate of George Anderson, deceased, for 222 days work on the Vernal Falls Trail, was referred to Executive Committee for decision. This work was done at the written order of the Commissioners, but the claim was rejected in June, 1884.
The claim of the Big Oak Flat Road Co., for $3,500 authorized to be paid by the Legislature, was referred for future consideration. The warrant for $1,500 for Conway's Eagle Point Trail has been drawn. Assemblyman W. B. May, of the 33rd San Francisco District, was elected Secretary of the Board.
The business of selecting a site for the $40,000 hotel was referred to the Executive Committee. Requests for plans and designs for the building will be published. G. G. Goucher, attorney for the Board, resigned.
At 3 o'clock P. M. June 4th, the Board adjourned subject to the call of the Executive Committee, after first authorizing the renting of an office in San Francisco.
September 9th, 1885
The Yosemite Commissioners have advertised for plans and specifications for a hotel to be built in the Yosemite Valley. The ad can be seen in another column under the head of new to day.
October 3rd, 1885
The "Sentinel of Yosemite" gives the following rehash of the various hotels of Yosemite Valley:
"The first house was built in 1856 on the site of the hotel now kept by J. J. Cook. This house was opened as place of public entertainment, by G. A. Hite, in 1857, then by J. H. Neal in 1858, and by others successively until 1866, when Mr. G. F. Leidig and wife took charge of the place and kept it until the summer of 1869, when Mr. A. G. Black took the place, enlarged the accommodations and kept it continuously until 1881, when he sold out to Messrs. Wright & Cook, who, after one year, transferred the business to Mr. J. J. Cook, the present proprietor.
In 1858, a place of entertainment was opened by G. A. Hite in a large canvass-covered house on the premises now occupied by J. K. Barnard. In the winter following, Mr. Hite and Mr. B. Beardsley built the house now know as the "Old Hutchings House," and kept public entertainment there in 1859. The place then passed into the possession of Cashman & Sullivan, merchants, for debts due them by Hite & Beardsley. It was then opened and kept, annually, by different parties, until 1864, when Mr. J. M. Hutchings took charge of the premises and kept it as a hotel continuously until of spring of 1875, when Messrs. Coulter & Murphy obtained a lease of the property from the Yosemite Commissioners, and kept the place for two years. In 1877, it was transferred to J. K. Barnard, the present proprietor.
The hotel now owned and kept by G. F. Leidig and wife, was built in he winter of 1869-70, and has been kept by them up to the present time.
An appropriation of $40,000 was made by the last Legislature for the purpose of building a large hotel, which will probably be completed within two years."
October 10th, 1885
A Site for a Hotel Selected and Eleven Plans Rejected.
The Board of commissioners appointed to manage the affairs of the Yosemite Valley and Big Tree Grove, met on Wednesday (in San Francisco). September 30th, to consider the most available site for the construction of a hotel in the Valley. Governor Stoneman was present and presided over the meeting.
After the disposal of routine business the Guardian was instructed to construct a trail from McCauley’s to the head of "Illimette" Falls, and a bridge across that stream, and the trail continued along the brink of the wall, or the lip of the Valley, to a point immediately about the head of Nevada Falls, the Merced river to be bridged at this point and connection made with the Cloud’s Rest, near Snow’s.
The Treasurer reported that the hotel appropriation of $40,000 was on hand, as was also $9,452.45 of the Legislature appropriation of $10,000.
The question of a hotel site was taken up, and after a lengthy discussion and the casting of numerous ballots Glacier was selected.
The Board then went into executive session to consider the plans of the hotel.
At 4 o’clock the Board adjourned to meet tomorrow (Thursday) in the San Francisco Stock Exchange building. The whole day was consumed in balloting for the different plans. Fifteen were presented, but out of that number eleven were rejected. As one member of the Commission was missing, the ballots stood four to four, and a tie was called on every one of the four remaining plans.
The Board finally adjourned to meet October 15th, at the same place.
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