The Ramona hotel was a luxury destination, host to presidents and the dream of land speculators who thought “If you build a fancy hotel they will come, and buy our land, making us rich. Moooohahahahahaaaaaaaa.”
Ok, I may have made up that quote, but I’m pretty sure the general drift is accurate.
The all too short life of the Ramona was covered in an earlier post.
Ironically the fire hydrant survived the huge fire that destroyed the building, the story from the February 6, 1971 Telegram-Tribune.
Old hydrant becomes S.L.O. relic
By Elliot Curry
A fire hydrant that stood at the corner of Marsh street and Johnson avenue on the morning the Ramona hotel burned, Nov. 10, 1905, was moved Friday to the grounds of the Dallidet adobe.
For many years the hydrant has been in the backyard at the home of the late Mrs. Mabel Palmer Rotsel at 1310 Marsh street. Her daughter, Mrs. Mildred Di Paolo of Morgan Hill, is here disposing of the estate and presented the hydrant, along with an old millstone, to the County Historical Society.
The Rotsel home stands in the corner of the block once occupied by the great resort hotel. The hotel faced Johnson Avenue (then called Essex street at this point) with the railroad at the rear.
Mrs. Louisiana Dart arranged for transfer of the hydrant by workmen from the County Department of Parks and Beaches. It will stand in the Dallidet garden beside the Ramona depot, which also once stood beside the hotel.
Many stories have been told about the burning of the Ramona and one of them may apply to the very hydrant which now takes on the role of historic relic.
The fire started in the kitchen around 2 o’clock on the morning of Nov. 10. It was said that melting lard or grease caught fire, perhaps after being spilled. The fire alarm was sounded and when firemen arrived the blaze was still being confined to the kitchen.
Years later persons who had been there that night told Mrs. Dart that firemen attached their hose to a hydrant in front of the hotel and started in through the front door.
According to the witnesses, the hotel manager stopped them and declared he did not want them running over his new carpeting. They went back, unscrewed their fire hose, and took it around to the back door.
By then it was too late. Some 250 employees and guests in the hotel were awakened by that time and came pouring out into the street.
Whether the story is accurate or not, a fire hydrant seems a suitable historic memento of the greatest fire in the city’s history.
I usually defer to the esteemed Mr. Curry on items historical but the greatest fires in San Luis Obispo history were in my estimation
Still in the future would be the Las Pilitas fire in the mid-1980s— stopped at the town’s edge in an epic stand by firefighters.