By Carrie Carter

For The Union Democrat

The Hotel Charlotte is located on the north side of Main Street in downtown Groveland and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was built for Charlotte De Ferrari in 1921 by Frank Ferretti during the height of the Hetch Hetchy Project. It is the only such business in Groveland to operate continuously in that role to this day.

Charlotte, with her brother David ran the business until 1948. Even when the Hetch Hetchy project ended and the workers left, the hotel and restaurant were able to remain in operation. Much of that is due to the tenacity and work ethic of Charlotte, herself.

Charlotte was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1882. Her father Luigi De Ferrari had come to California during the Gold Rush, made his fortune, and then went home to Italy. After Charlotte’s birth he returned to California and in 1886 was tragically killed in a mining accident near Hardin Flat.

In 1900 or 1901 Charlotte, in her late teens, came to live in Groveland. In 1916 she opened her first restaurant in a small building on the east side of the Iron Door Saloon, which was owned by her uncle, Giacomo De Ferrari. She closed her Hetch Hetchy Restaurant after two years and took over management of the Groveland Hotel’s dining room.

Then in 1921, on the lot where the Washington Hotel, later renamed the Savory Hotel, once stood, Charlotte had her hotel built. It featured two stories with a gable roof and false front.

On the old Gem Saloon lot to the west of her hotel she had a restaurant building constructed in 1927 or 1928. Charlotte sent for her niece, Mary Sbarbaro to come from Italy to help her run the new cafe. The niece, who was a fine chef, presided over the new restaurant and later leased and operated the restaurant independently.

The concrete columns seen supporting the front balcony today were added in 1936 by Charlotte after people continually ran into the original wooden posts while parking. It seemed to work and people became much more careful while parallel parking on the north side of the street, sparing damage to their cars.

The hotel underwent a major renovation in 1975 that significantly altered the back and sides of the building, leaving the Neoclassical style of the street façade much the same as the way it looked in the 1940s.

After selling the Hotel, Charlotte purchased a home in Sonora and retired there. She died in 1970 and is interred at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery in Big Oak Flat.

As an aside, the small wood framed building on the east side of the Hotel Charlotte in the photo is noteworthy as it was the home of Groveland’s only newspaper before moving to Tuolumne City in 1918.

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