By RYAN CAMPBELL
The Union Democrat
More than 160 years after it was first built to house Gold Rush-era miners, the Hotel Jeffery in Coulterville has reopened following a three-month renovation.
New owners Forrest Monk and Sara Zahn say they have been working to thoroughly clean the rooms, restore old woodwork and fixtures, and bring in dozens of antiques from the 1800s.
The hotel, restaurant and saloon had been closed for more than two years after the property was foreclosed, Monk said. He and Zahn, who have been partners in a pet cardiology business for the past nine years, officially took over ownership of the building only two weeks ago.
The hotel burned down twice in the 1800s, but still remains one of the oldest buildings in the foothills, with one of the longest running saloons in the state, Monk said.
The 20-room hotel has a variety of living quarters. Some rooms have their own bathrooms while others share “European-style” facilities. The owners have furnished the rooms with antique lights and chairs and have installed hand crank phones that still work. Zahn refinished the hotel’s 40-foot-long wooden bar, which was built in 1888.
“We had a definite vision of what we wanted to see here,” Monk said.
The hotel has five employees, but Monk said he plans to hire more in the future as business begins to pick up.
Rooms cost from $54 for a standard room to $229 per night for a double suite with sitting room. But if you’re planning on staying in room 22, beware. Legend has it the room is haunted, Monk said.
Patrons have seen and heard numerous unexplained phenomenon related to room 22, he said. All of the rooms are carpeted, but still some visitors swear they can hear the unmistakable clank of spurred boots on the wood floors, Monk said.
A mysterious blood stain was found on the hardwood floor beneath the carpeting, and a hotel picture shows the silhouetted figure of a 1800s man standing next to the room with his hand on his hip.
“They say this place is haunted,” Monk said. “People have seen a miner ghost standing at the bar.”
Far from being spooked by its ghostly reputation, the Hotel Jeffery makes ghost-hunting part of the experience. Monk said that visitors who stay in room 22 receive a box with spectre-finding equipment like an EMF detector, motion sensors and recording devices.
Beyond the paranormal, the hotel has several attractions to keep visitors entertained. On Saturdays actors will feign an impromptu gun battle in the hotel saloon. He said many tourists from countries like Germany and Spain are surprised by the rough and tumble display.
“They get a little spooked when people come in and start firing,” Monk said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
The Hotel Jeffery is at 5001 Main St., off Highway 132 in Coulterville.
For more information, call 593-5880 or visit www.hoteljeffery.com
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties