The Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California is in the process of buying the Jamestown Hotel and several surrounding properties.

They hope to forge a partnership with Columbia College to provide educational opportunities at the hotel for students in the school’s hospitality management program, said Stephanie Suess, community and resources development director for the tribe.

“The tribe is focused on the community and wants to be a supporter of Jamestown however they can,” Suess said.

A sign from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control hangs inside one of the historic hotel’s front windows notifying of the pending ownership change to the Chicken Ranch Economic Development Corp.

The purchase also includes the offices for the tribe’s Mathiesen Memorial Health Clinic behind the hotel, the Marengo Building next door at 18145 Main St., and the building at the northeast corner of Main and Donovan streets that houses the Wild Rose Gift Shop and Art Gallery.

Suess said another reason for the purchase is to provide some lodging accommodations for guests of the tribe’s Chicken Ranch Casino at 16929 Chicken Ranch Road in Jamestown.

“It’s a place for them to kind of break into hospitality and provide an amenity for some of their guests, because they don’t have a hotel,” she said.

The hotel has eight guestrooms, which includes two suites with two bedrooms each, as well as a full-service restaurant and bar.

David Martinez, a native of Spain, built the current Jamestown Hotel in 1919, according to a Union Democrat article in April by Betty Sparagna, of the Tuolumne County Historical Society Landmarks Committee.

There was a previous Jamestown Hotel built as early as 1856 by John Pereira, a native of Madeira, Portugal, who became a prominent businessman, landowner and developer in the Jamestown area during the latter half of the 19th century.

Sparagna’s article stated the fate of the original hotel is unknown, but it’s believed to have burned down at some point.

The current Jamestown Hotel was purchased in 1938 by Dr. Donald L. Farrell and converted in the Mother Lode Hospital before being reopened as a hotel in 1950s under various owners, the article stated.

Ownership of the hotel changed multiple times until it shut down in 2010.

Charles Morgan, a former East Bay developer, purchased the then-vacant hotel and surrounding properties in 2012 with plans to renovate and reopen it within a matter of months. However, he said it required more work than anticipated and took two years to complete.

“It was old, worn out and tired,” he said. “It was 10 times the work that I thought we’d be doing.”

The remodel included replacing walls, bathrooms, floorboards, plumbing, kitchen appliances and a 35-year-old heating system. It reopened in May 2014. Morgan said he purchased the hotel and properties because owning a hotel and restaurant was on his “bucket list.” He was familiar with it from motorcycle rides he would take to the area in the 1990s.

“Now, I got it off my bucket list,” said Morgan. “There’s a lot of time involved in running a restaurant, bar and hotel. It’s an eight-day-a-week job.”

Though he declined to comment directly on the pending transaction, Morgan said he looks forward to spending more time on personal projects like restoring a couple of old cars at his home in Sonora.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.




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