Bret Harte Inn – Through the years in pictures |

Bret Harte Inn – Through the years in pictures

Last time I promised to continue the Nevada City Firehouse No. 2 story. Unfortunately the project, which was to have furnished material for the story, is not far enough along to allow reporting or photographing of its progress. Instead, I have chosen to dig into my photo files for a look spanning approximately 85 years in the life of one of Grass Valley’s premier landmarks – the Bret Harte Hotel or Inn, as it has been variously known through the years.

Like her older sister, the Holbrooke (diagonally across West Main Street) the Bret Harte has served the needs of generations of travelers. The hostelry has been the scene of myriad social functions, including one in 1935 for former President Herbert C. Hoover. It has also been the location of countless high-level meetings of gold-mining moguls during the ’20s, ’30s, and into the 1940s, one of the reasons it was built.

Until 1942, a visitor to Grass Valley had the option of arriving by railroad, bus or personal automobile. Hotels were still the dominant choice of the traveler.

The biggest change to the building’s appearance came during the last 10 years or so when a partial fourth story (or five, if you don’t count “ground level”) was added. Today, the Bret Harte Inn is a full-service retirement home, with small commercial development along its ground level, West Main Street side.

The older two photos are postcard scenes; the contemporary photos were taken in the mid-1960s and January 2004.

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