September 26, 1877 – August Geschwartner leased the Caspar Hotel (including the barn and outhouses) from Frank Anderson for $40/month for five years. August advertised in the Beacon, “Having opened the above named Hotel, I will be pleased to see my friends… In connection with the Hotel is a GOOD STABLE, where feed for horses can always be had. The BAR will be supplied with the best brands of wines, liquors and cigars. A splendid STRAHLE Billiard Table will be found for the accommodation of Guests.”

August didn’t complete his 5-year lease. Frank retired the following April and sold the hotel to John and Neil McDonald. The McDonald brothers ran the hotel for several years before offering to sell the property in 1887. “FOR SALE, the undersigned offers for sale the well-known Caspar Hotel Property at Caspar, Cal. This is a very desirable property. The location is very good, and it is the only hotel in town. The improvements are all first class. For particulars inquire of John McDonald, Caspar.”

Two-story hotel building with men standing outside. A wagon pulled by six horses is in the street in front of the hotel.
Caspar Hotel, c. 1891. Carriage and horses in front of the Caspar Hotel in Caspar, California. A group of men pose on the front porch. They are identified as (L – R): Neil McNeil, Charles Morand, Joe Colburn, John Leishman, Jim Jardine, Louie Morand, George O’Donnell, William Wakerley, John K. McDonald, Vess Nolan, Eugene Brady, Sam Blaine and John N. von Ahnen on the far right.

It’s unclear when the property sold, but S. D. “Vess” Nolan leased the Caspar Hotel in March 1890. Vess was an experienced hotelkeeper who had previously run a hotel at Noyo, and advertised the Caspar Hotel in the Beacon, “This Hotel has just been thoroughly renovated and is First-Class in Every Respect. The table is supplied with the best the market can afford. Good Clean rooms and beds. Fine Wines, Liquors & Cigars at the Bar.”

Nolan’s success didn’t last though. In April 1898, the Beacon reported that the hotel had burned to the ground. The fire started at 3am “and gained such headway before anyone knew of its existence that it was impossible to save the building or even its contents. It is supposed that the conflagration was due to a defective flue. The building was owned by William McLean, of Fort Bragg, and was insured for $1300. The principal loss falls on S. D. Nolan, the lessee and occupant.”

Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino – Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. You’ll pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting places, and buildings that make up the the Mendocino Historic District.