Fairmont hotels San Francisco are steeped in history. If you are lucky enough to spend the night at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel, you will be spending the night with history high atop famous Nob Hill. Sounds exciting?
The history of the Fairmont hotels San Francisco begins at the turn of the 20th century with a colorful Old West character named James Graham “Diamond Jim” Fair, one of San Francisco’s wealthiest citizens. Diamond Jim’s daughters, Tessie and Virginia Fair, built the Fairmont as a monument to and namesake of their father, who died in 1894.
Fairmont Hotels San Francisco: From Start To Finish
In 1902 the construction of the Fairmont hotels San Francisco began, but the Fair sisters dropped the project in 1906. At that time, they exchanged the hotel project for two office buildings owned by brothers Herbert and Hartland Law. When the exchange took place the exterior structure of the hotel was already completed, but the interior furnishings had not yet been placed and installed. So there was still a chance to make the exchange with minimal extra expense
Fairmont hotels San Francisco And The San Francisco Earthquake
A few days after the Law brothers acquired the Fairmont Hotel, the famous San Francisco earthquake struck. The structure incurred only minimal harm in the earthquake, and for awhile it looked like it would also survive the post-earthquake fires that engulfed the city, but 24 hours after the great quake, the Fairmont succumbed to the flames that had eaten their way up Nob Hill.
Fairmont hotels San Francisco Rebuilding Starts
The Law brothers were so convinced of the need for and potential of the Fairmont hotels San Francisco that they did not waste any time rebuilding the Fairmont Hotel from scratch. They hired Julia Morgan, the first woman to graduate from the prestigious Parisian Ecole des Beaux Arts, as their architect. This lady would later come to be known as one of America’s premiere female architects, but when the Law brothers hired her, she was virtually unknown.
Within one year the project was completed and the Law brothers held a grand banquet celebrating the reopening of the Fairmont Hotel. The banquet was a wine and seafood feast, complete with fireworks at nine o’clock that night. And with that grand banquet the Fairmont hotels San Francisco was re-born.
Tessie Fair Returns
The hotel thrived after the earthquake, becoming the temporary home of many of San Francisco’s elite society whose mansions had been destroyed in the great fire. In 1908, Diamond Jim’s daughter Tessie Fair, now Mrs. Tessie Oelrichs, returned to Nob Hill and purchased the Fairmont. Under her ownership, the hotel was host to several presidents and well known entertainers, such as President Teddy Roosevelt, President Howard Taft, and entertainer Rudolph Valentino.
Fairmont Hotels San Francisco Today
Over the years, the Fairmont hotels San Francisco has changed ownership many times. Fortunately, all subsequent owners realized the importance of the hotel’s history, and have maintained the style and prestige of the original Fairmont Hotel. And the history of this wonderful hotel in San Francisco lives on right down to today.