Geiser Grand Hotel

I’ve been busy working on the next book in my Baker City Brides series, set in historic Baker City located right along the Oregon Trail in Eastern Oregon.

The series begins in the early 1890s when Baker City was experiencing its second gold rush period. (The first came in the 1860s). Baker City was the geographic center for booming gold, copper, and silver mines. It became a center for trade and commerce and was the second city in the state to boast electricity and paved roads.  In fact, it’s said Baker City almost became the capital of Oregon.

During the heyday of Baker City, new buildings and businesses were popping up all around. The town had earned the name “Queen City of the Mines.”

And one of those new buildings just happened to be a wonderfully luxurious hotel named Hotel Warshauer. Merchants Jake and Harry Warshauer opened the hotel in 1889. Built in an Italianate Victorian style, the building was designed by architect John Bennes and constructed using mined volcanic tuff from the region.

The hotel featured a four-story clock tower and a 200-foot corner cupola. Supposedly, the hotel cost $70,000 to build and included 80 guest rooms as well as seating for 200 in the elegant dining room.

A second-floor balcony overlooked the dining room’s marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and mahogany paneling. Presiding over it, was a beautiful stained glass ceiling (reportedly the largest in the Pacific Northwest) that allowed light to drift into the interior.

The Hotel Warshauer was innovative and ahead of its time. It offered electricity in every room along with hot and cold running water and bathrooms! The hotel also boasted the third elevator built west of the Mississippi River.

They even had a little gold tasseled cloth that hung in each room with a list of rules.

Rule #2: “Fires in rooms charged extra.” Presumably, this was the fire in a stove to warm the room, not setting the room ablaze.

Rule #6: “We will not be responsible for boots and shoes left in the hall. Guests desiring them blacked will please leave with the porter.” I love this one because in Corsets and Cuffs (book 3 in the series) the heroine leaves her shoes in the hall to be cleaned and polished, and they disappear. I wonder how many people had that happen back then?

The hotel was eventually purchased by the Geiser Family of the Bonanza Mine fame. They renamed the hotel the Geiser Grand Hotel, a name it carries to this day.

Baker City and the hotel did well through the 1920s, up until the depression. After that, the hotel began to lose business and fell into a state of disrepair.  One highlight was the cast of Paint Your Wagon staying at the hotel when the movie was filmed in 1968. (The movie starred Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Several fun tidbits about the filming of the movie and even a few costumes are on display at the Baker Heritage Museum.)

The hotel was closed in 1969, though. The exterior cracked, the interior sustained massive damage and decades later, the threat to tear it down was real.

In 1978, the Baker Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places, including the hotel. Attempts were made to preserve the hotel, but it wasn’t until Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased the Geiser Grand Hotel in the early 1990s and poured millions into a restoration and renovation that brought the hotel back to life.

Today, guests can step inside the hotel and find that it looks much as it did back in its days of glory. The stained glass ceiling still floods the restaurant with light, and the opulence of days gone by prevails from the mahogany wood in the lobby to the chandeliers in the guest rooms.

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To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Crumpets and Cowpies, the first book in the Baker City Brides series, please post your answer to this question:

If you were traveling in the year 1890, what luxury item or amenity would you want to find in your hotel room?

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Baker City Brides

Shanna Hatfield
After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

24 Comments

  1. Good morning Shanna, beautiful blog. What an amazing Hotel. Hum?? Great question. We are definitely spoiled in the day and time. I could get by with a lantern in the room for light, a wash bowl & pitcher for small bathes to clean up before bed & water for drinking, as long as their was a bath house in hotel to take a full bath during my stay, and I could get by with a potty bowl for using the bathroom during the night.
    But I’d definitely need some way to heat or cool my room depending on the time of year. If I’m too hot or too cold I have a hard time sleeping.
    Thanks for a great blog, I’ve not read this series by you yet.. now I’m Very intrigued. You’re books are all amazing just like you, Sweetie. Have fun in Reno. ??????

    1. I agree with you on a way to stay warm/cool depending on the weather. All those other things they were accustomed to having to do and are doable.

    2. I’m with you, Tonya. I’d need heat or cooling for sleeping. Hope you enjoy this series when you get around to it. Thank you so much! Hugs!

  2. I would love to stay there. I would like a bathroom.

    1. Me, too, Debra! Thanks for stopping by today!

  3. Wow I just can’t imagine such a fancy hotel way back then. I can just imagine a long struggle to make my way west and coming upon that hotel.Sounds like an awesome place to visit. To your question I have a hard time picking one thing. Having MS though (which I wouldn’t have had back then I’m sure) I’d have to say a way to stay cool. Getting hot is my downfall. It said there was a way to heat so a way to keep cool in those months its needed would be most important to me.

    1. I like to imagine how weary travelers arriving in town might have been surprised by the luxury of the hotel, too. Oh, so sorry about your MS. Hugs to you, Stephanie.

  4. What a gorgeous hotel. I guess back then, a luxury would be clean bedding. I would definitely want that. A bathroom in the room would be nice too.

    1. Yes! Clean bedding is a must! Thanks for popping in today Janine!

  5. Good Morning Shanna loved the blog. I think the hot/cold running water would have been what I would want most in a room back then. Taking a bath after a long dusty trail ride by horseback or stagecoach I think would have been my first priority back then

    1. I close my eyes and picture how much a dust-coated woman who’d just traveled across the country would feel to be able to indulge in a hot bath in a nicely appointed room. I’d sure appreciate it! Thanks for stopping in today! Big smiles to you!

  6. Wow, it looks like it was a beauty! Hmm, I’m not sure what I would want most to have back then. For sure a full working bathroom in my room – I love my plumbing. LOL. But heat is important, too.

    1. Indoor plumbing is right up there at the top of my list! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by today, Susan!

  7. I’d love hot/cold running water in a room back then. Even today, I can’t stand to camp unless I know I have access to a hot shower.

    1. Hi Carrie,
      I hate camping for that very reason! Thanks for stopping in today and reading about the hotel.

  8. Hot water. Would care about anything else but there gotta be hot running water.

    1. Hi Kim! Hot water is definitely a plus! Thank you so much for stopping by today!

  9. I am a whimp. I need my running water. Just cold would be a minimum I could get by with. Thanks for the beautiful historical story.

    1. Thank you for stopping in, Jerri Lynn! I’ll be a wimp right alongside you. Need my running water! 🙂 Indoors!

  10. A hot bath.

    1. Thanks, Linda! So appreciate you stopping by today. A hot bath would be an essential!

  11. It would definitely be the bathroom.
    This looks like a lovely old building. The stained glass ceiling is very similar to the one in the historic train station in Nashville, TN (now a hotel). The detail and workmanship in these old buildings is wonderful. I admire the Sidway’s for putting the time nd money in bringing this old hotel back to life. It breaks my heart every time lovely old buildings are torn down. I realize how much time and money it takes to refurbish one. We have a 1898 Victorian farmhouse that had to be gutted down to the studs and redone it was in such bad shape. We are literally never done. Even though our house is no big deal, it has a personality and warmth that won,t be found in new construction.

    1. Hi Patricia,
      It really is a lovely old hotel and I know just what you mean about new construction lacking the character of the old homes. So fun you have an old farmhouse. I bet it is beautiful! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping in today!

  12. How fun it would be to stay there! I’ve stayed at the Brown Hotel in Denver (it’s been years, but built by Johnnie and Molly Brown of Unsinkable Molly Brown fame???) History is fascinating to me. I didn’t see the original question here, but from reading the posts I’m assuming it has to to with amenities? I’m a need a bathroom NOW kind of girl now that I’m older. (Hope I don’t offend anyone) I grew up with an outhouse, so that wouldn’t bother me if I was younger.

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