Our History

The National Hotel ~ one of the oldest continuously operated hotels in California!

1859 National Hotel

Early History of the Historic National Hotel

In 1859, Heinrich and Hannah Neilson established a hotel, bar and restaurant, that was to become known as the National Hotel. The two wooden buildings were among the first permanent structures in this early (1848) gold-rush town of Jamestown. Earlier establishments were mostly tent and non-permanent wooden structures. The National Hotel has been in continuous operation from this date having survived two damaging fires in 1901 and 1927.

The fire of 1901 destroyed several blocks of Jamestown, but only damaged the National Hotel. Fire in 1927 destroyed the Forester Hall, located next door, and severely damaged the National Hotel, which had to then be remodeled. Today’s restoration work was begun in 1974 by present owners and has been ongoing some 32 years later.

During Prohibition, the National Hotel was raided several times. as read in The Union Democrat of January 5, 1927, which stated that government agents were looking for liquor. Agents seized; 9 – 50 gallon barrels of wine, 1 – 100 gallon barrel of wine, 1 – demijohn of wine, 2 – 10 gallon kegs of brandy and corn whiskey. Owner, Joe Graziano was fined $500.

Legalized prostitution was conducted here until the late 1930’s and gambling including slot machines until 1949.

The original back bar is still utilized today and a working cash register dating to 1881 is also in view, although it is handicapped by the fact that a maximum of $6.95 can be rung at any one time. Much of the wood wainscoting which is visible throughout the building is original, although it was originally built as floor to ceiling wall paneling.

A gold mine shaft remains at the rear of the garden courtyard, although it is covered and usually full of water. Someday, we may open it and add a water fountain.

Plumbing was added to the individual rooms of the hotel in 1979-80. Prior to this, during the 1920’s, an exterior building was added, which contained a single bathroom, with toilet, sink and bathtub, to service the hotel rooms.