By the end of the 19th century, Petaluma had become America’s largest center for chicken and egg production and the town’s population reached over six thousand by the end of 1920 raising the demand for transportation to San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. During these years, guests would arrive by ferry, railway, and cars from San Francisco to enjoy the hotel’s accommodations, live bands, lavish dinners, and the popular Redwood Room. Mr. Henry Barker was the first to lease the hotel and spared no expense upgrading the building and the furnishings for Hotel Petaluma.
Today, guests still enjoy the grandeur and stunning architectural history that are visible from the threshold through to Hotel Petaluma’s original pull-door elevator which was the first passenger elevator in Petaluma. Originally the hotel was designed to be a four story building with 96 guest rooms but a 5th floor was added to provide housing for the hotel employees. The elegant dining hall where formal dinners were held, is still available as our banquet facility that is available for special occasions.
“Made possible through the cooperative effort of eight hundred and fifty five men and women of Petaluma. Its friendly doors welcome the stranger and under its hospitable roof the friends of Petaluma find always only goodwill. It stands as evidence and proof of the faith which the people of Petaluma have in each other and in their city.”
Guests today are greeted by these words engraved on a bronze placard “Built in 1923, Hotel Petaluma truly was a hotel ‘by the people for the people’. Resident shareholders pooled together $250,000 out of the total $350,000 costs for building Petaluma’s first and foremost hostelry.” A statement made of concrete and steel boasting over 100 rooms; and continuing the giving spirit of the community, the hotel’s front entrance was never locked. Hotel Petaluma was quickly transformed into the backbone of the community as the hub for social events, and civic meetings.
During the California Gold Rush, people from the East Coast flocked to the area. Having found their new home, many settled along the Petaluma River with its fertile valley floor, establishing farms that developed into large-sized commercial grain milling industries, dairy farms, and egg processing plants. Petaluma expanded further following the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake when Bay Area residents moved north to this area that had comparatively no damage from the quake. Until the construction of highway 101, the Petaluma River was the primary channel for commerce and raw materials transported into San Francisco. Relics of Petaluma’s grain milling and egg production are a short drive from Hotel Petaluma to this day.
A small group of visionary architects from San Francisco were contracted to draft blueprints to replace The Brooklyn, a small hotel ravaged by fire that sat on the corner of Washington and Kentucky Street. The Hotel Petaluma was erected, with its Art Deco interior and spacious mezzanine, Hotel Petaluma was a beacon for aristocrats that chose Hotel Petaluma as the backdrop for social events, and as a means to connect with the community. In the beginning, Hotel Petaluma offered long and short term stays as Petaluma had become a popular rest stop for visitors and traveling salesmen. During the 1960's the Elks Lodge purchased Hotel Petaluma and proposed that it become their headquarters.
Through the end of the 20thcentury, Hotel Petaluma has survived many owners, and remained a beacon of hospitality; continuously maintaining the nearly century old door policy with the sentiment that is engraved on the bronze marker.
Today, Hotel Petaluma has been completely renovated to honor the splendor and the architectural elements from the past, while delivering modern style, and efficiency to our guests.
The owners and staff of Hotel Petaluma proudly welcome you as their guest.