The first Jamestown Hotel was located near Willow Street where it connects with Main Street. This early namesake was owned by John Pereira as early as 1856, with several owners to follow. The fate of the early Jamestown Hotel is unknown, but its demise was probably due to fire.

The current Jamestown Hotel, built in 1919, was first owned by David Martinez, a native of Spain. Martinez immigrated to the United States about 15 years prior to opening the business. In 1920, his sister, Maria Alvarez, was the cook for the small boarding house, which was comprised mostly of men from Spain or Mexico. They were laborers in local gold mines. The hostel was known as the Spanish Hotel. In 1996, the Calaveras-Tuolumne Telegram reported, “In the evenings you could hear Spanish music being played and sung by the Spaniards who lived at the hotel.”

On Feb. 16, 1929, the two-story structure was practically destroyed by fire. It was on the auction block several times during the Great Depression in the 1930s for non-payment of taxes. Originally a wooden structure, the building was stuccoed in the 1930s, the gable roof changed to a sloping roof with false front, and the front porch changed to plastered arches.

In 1938, Dr. Donald L. Farrell converted the hotel into the Mother Lode Hospital. Dr. Farrell, born in Iowa in 1902, was a doctor of osteopathic medicine, a relatively new approach to medicine which focused on disease prevention and health maintenance.

With World War II over, and the closing of the mines, Dr. Farrell was forced to move his practice to Stockton. He said he lost money on his Mother Lode Hospital venture, but he gained a lot of experience. It was reported he never officially sold the building in the 1940s, but just walked away from it.

It was reopened as a hotel in the 1950s under various owners. In 1971, Charles Crocker, a descendant of one of the original owners of the Sierra Railway, opened Railtown 1897 for steam-powered excursions. To accommodate visitors, Crocker and Hugh McClung became the new owners of the Jamestown Hotel and restaurant. Refurbishments included covering the exterior with old brick, adding a wooden two-story Eastlake-style porch, and a boom town false front. The Sierra Railway’s depot burned down in 1978; Crocker discontinued its Sierra Railway excursion business the next year.

Over the past 35 years, the hotel has experienced multiple owners. Charles Olsen and Larry Moblad purchased the hotel in 1982, renovating the interior with brass chandeliers and oak floors, while paneled walls were decorated with wallpaper and solid oak. Today, the new owners, Charles and Kim Morgan, have undergone an extensive remodel after an almost three-year closure. The covered patio area has been replaced, the kitchen remodeled to state-of-the-art, and the guest rooms and bathrooms have been updated.

— Betty Sparagna, Tuolumne County Historical Society Landmarks Committee



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