After a fire took Santa Paula's Petroilia Hotel in 1903, the only lodging was a modest boardinghouse. Then a group of prominent Santa Paulans felt that it was time their city acquired a grand hotel.
They hired Los Angeles architects Sumner Hunt and Silas Burns to design a building in the manner of an English inn.
The hotel that resulted has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and named a county landmark.
The exterior of the building is English Tudor, the main wing half-timbered over stucco. The balance of the building is covered in dark wood shingles.
The lobby retains its original design, featuring massive wood columns, crossed beams, dark wainscoting, a huge stone fireplace and window seats.
The 32-room building cost $30,000 including furnishings, according to a 1911 account in the Santa Paula Chronicle.
It opened May 16, 1911, with an extravagant celebration, including a seven-course dinner with roast turkey and braised sweetbreads "a la Talleyrand." The price was $2. Rooms went for $1.50.
Immediately popular, the hotel attracted tourists, oilmen and movie personalities. It reserved a room in the '50s for Rin Tin Tin, whose name plaque still appears in a room on the third floor.
Fairy McCann, who was owner-manager at the time, said the canine star, who was being filmed in "The Night Cry," stayed on the second floor in what was then Room 11.
McCann bought out her parents in 1951 and ran the place almost a quarter of a century. She said it was a nice family hotel, and most of her guests were permanent residents, including a number of retired teachers.
"We had lots of birthday parties there in front of the fireplace," McCann said.
After she sold the property in 1974, it went through a succession of owners until Tokyo International College purchased it in 1989.
In its present configuration, the hotel has 38 rooms and two apartments. A number of rooms are reserved for Asian students, but the remainder of the rooms are open to the public.