Although the National Hotel has had several names and owners, it has been in continuous operation since Heinrich Neilson, a native of Denmark, established a hotel, restaurant and saloon with his wife, Hannah, in 1859.
By 1898, the hotel was known as the Hotel Europa, owned by Angelo Campora and E. Bruno. A devastating fire on May 24, 1901, originating from the Sisson Hotel, resulted in damages to the hotel amounting to $6,000. The Emporium, Jamestown Drug Store, E. Durgan’s Blacksmith and Wagon Shop and the Commercial Saloon were a few of the other businesses damaged during the fire.
Campora and Bruno restored their hotel business, changing the name to the International Hotel in 1902. Sometime before 1908, the name was changed again to the National Hotel. The name has since remained the same. In 1916, Angelo Campora died in the Bromley Sanitarium in Sonora, leaving his partner, Guido Ridolfi, his property.
Another disastrous fire occurred in the early morning hours of July 8, 1927, destroying most of the National Hotel and all of Foresters’ Hall, a popular gathering place for dances. The Mother Lode Magnet reported on the fire’s damage of the National: “Though the south wall, the front and portions of the interior are still intact, all, or most all, is irreparably damaged. The hotel annex in the back yard, which stands a little further from the burned hall, was saved without consequential damage.”
The National Hotel proprietors were Silverio Grazioni and Mrs. Angelina Carboni (she was the sister of Mrs. Mary Ridolfi and later became the wife of Silverio). By August 1927, plans were drawn for a two-story concrete building to be erected on the site containing 12 rooms on each floor, with “modern conveniences and comforts.” The architects were E.F. Robinson and Silverio Grazioni.
In the 1920s through 1950s, local newspapers were filled with stories of alcohol, gambling, and prostitution in Jamestown and neighboring towns. In 1949, the grand jury wrote a letter to the state attorney general asking him to “send his men to Tuolumne County for the purpose of cleaning up the gambling and prostitution.” During Prohibition, the National Hotel was among those businesses raided by government agents.
In 1974, Stephen Willey and his brother, Michel, became proprietors of the National Hotel. They added the current two-story porch and façade, reproducing the 1800s exterior.
— Betty Sparagna, TCHS Landmarks Committee