An Impressive Guest Register
WHO SLEPT HERE?: Stay where the famous have dined, danced and dreamt.
For his honeymoon, Clark Gable and his beloved wife, Carole Lombard, stayed at the Gold Mountain Manor, a romantic inn tucked away in mountainous Big Bear, Calif. This retreat hosted many of the rich and famous.
For those of us who frequent bed & breakfasts or country inns, the myriad of statesmen, writers, actors and other adorned personalities who once visited these places is one of many characteristics that makes the experience so unique.
For instance, guests staying at the opulent John Rutledge House Inn in Charleston, S.C., may proclaim not only that George Washington once dined there, but that first drafts of the U.S. Constitution were drawn up in the mansion's ballroom. The home's builder, John Rutledge, was no slouch himself in the context of American history. Rutledge, was not only a writer and signer of the Constitution, he also served as South Carolina's first governor and a Supreme Court justice. A stay at Rutledge's home is to experience a little piece of American history.
Much of our nation's history is preserved at inns and bed & breakfasts. Authors Samuel Clemens and Jack London, as well as President Theodore Roosevelt were among the famous guests at the Vichy Hot Springs Resort & Inn in Ukiah, Calif. Although the lodging facilities have been updated, the 1860s naturally sparkling mineral baths remain unchanged. As you relax in a mineral bath, it's not hard to imagine the days when guests were able to discuss "Tom Sawyer," or "The Call of the Wild," with the authors.
In its heyday, Eureka, Calif., was a booming, Victorian-era lumber town. One of its leading lumber barons fashioned a gracious mansion in town, drawing the likes of entertainers Lillie Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt, as well as a multitude of senators and representatives. Today, the home serves as the bed & breakfast, Abigail's "Elegant Victorian Mansion" B&B Lodging Accommodations. Guests at the mansion are treated to an authentic, Victorian experience, complete with hosts and a butler decked in full, period attire.
It's not surprising that many an artist visited Hacienda del Sol, an 1810 adobe home located in Taos, N.M. Among the famous guests were Georgia O'Keefe, who painted here, and D.H. Lawrence. The home is a restful place, set among huge cottonwoods, blue spruce and Ponderosa pines, with an uninterrupted view of the mountains across 95,000 acres of Native American lands.
The Colonel Taylor Inn B&B and Gift Shop is named after Colonel Joseph D. Taylor, a four-term U.S. Congressman and Civil War veteran who built the house in 1878. Although he fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg against General Lee and his troops, he advised his superior, General Ambrose Burnside, against the attack, telling the General, "The carrying out of your plan will be murder, not warfare." He became friends with President William McKinley, whose hometown of Niles, Ohio was in the 17th district that Colonel Taylor represented. McKinley has been verifed as a guest here; President Garfield and Hayes are said to have visted as well.
At The General Lewis, a stagecoach that once delivered travelers to the springs on the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, rests under an arbor. Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson registered at this 1834 inn's walnut desk, which was retrieved from an old hot springs resort in the area.
Many of these historic hotels, bed & breakfasts and country inns would be worthy of interest and historic recognition even without the famous guests. But it's always nice for travelers to reminisce their journeys with the knowledge that George Washington did indeed once sleep here.