Thursday, September 13, 2018

Redding's first class hostelry: the Golden Eagle hotel

This is the earliest known sketch of the Golden Eagle hotel in Redding. There is a sign promoting Dooley's Restaurant and the hotel bar. Taken from a late 1880s Birds Eye View Map of Redding. Proprietors: Spellman & Kern. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle.

The beginning of the Golden Eagle hotel in Redding was reported in this column from the Republican Free Press newspaper on April 9, 1887:

Barney Conroy is figuring on a two-story brick building on the corner of Yuba and California Streets, and it is rumored that he and Mr. Wiseman, his son-in-law, will go into business.” (SIC)

Bernard “Barney” Conroy was an Irish immigrant and a pioneer settler of Shasta County, who arrived in 1856 from New York with his wife Mary (Flannigan) Conroy and their daughter Ellen. Another child named Stephen was added to the household that year when they settled at Horsetown where Conroy previously owned and operated a saloon. Barney and Mary had six more children between the years 1858 and 1872, respectively.
Conroy had experience as a hotel proprietor since he formerly owned the Redding Hotel in 1881. While plans were underway to erect this new two-story building, the local media often referred to it as Conroy’s building, its official name wasn’t released until a later date. It was the Holt & Gregg Company of Anderson who received the contract from Conroy to do the brick work of his building. Apparently, he did not go into business with Wiseman but allowed him to rent one of his own business offices in the hotel for his son-in-law’s company. John T. Wiseman was a native of Texas who married Conroy’s daughter Catherine and they lived in Redding. In May, the construction began as the Holt & Gregg Company had an overflow of bricks in their brickyard ready to start the construction of the first-story. Eventually, they had to produce additional bricks at their brickyard by burning a new kiln on the property specifically for this project.
During July, a laborer working on the Conroy building fell off a scaffold with a loaded wheelbarrow of bricks. His body hit the hoist and he fell to the ground as the bricks fell on top of him which critically injured him. The wheelbarrow landed near him. The unidentified man was rushed to a local hospital where his injuries were treated. It was the only injury during the course of the hotel’s construction.
One of the first companies to move inside the Conroy building was the John T. Wiseman & Company. The following article was heralded in the Republican Free Press newspaper on July 16, 1887:

J.T. Wiseman & Co.

This is the name of the firm which will occupy the first two rooms of Barney Conroy’s new brick building on the corner of Yuba and California Streets. The first room, 25x90, will be filled with groceries, hardware and goods of that character, and the second store 22x50 feet will be the dry goods and fancy goods department. These rooms will be finished right away, and the firm expects to be ready for business near the first of August. J.T. Wiseman is a son-in-law of Barney Conroy and for a long time was identified with Sisson & Crocker at the railroad front, and at present owns an interest in a store at Deming, N.M. The company will be W.E. Chesley, wholesale dealers in wines, liquors and groceries, and who is well known to every business man in the upper country. This firm has plenty of capital and will doubtless, with our other large stores, make Redding a center for a large trade. We like to see business men come among us, for business men attract business the world over.” (SIC)

The Holt & Gregg Company completed the brick work on July 30, 1887, which gave the hotel an imposing site. The new hotel would soon be opened to the public on the first day of August. From the start the hotel lacked a few things including some of its furniture, its bar and its restaurant. A month later, a Canadian immigrant by the name of Thomas Dooley, a resident of Chico established his new restaurant in Redding inside Barney Conroy’s hotel. Dooley had twenty years as an experience restaurant owner and he was quite impressed with Redding’s growth and prosperity, which is why he selected the city to be his new place of business. He already had restaurants in operation in Willows and Chico. These restaurants were well favored by the public.
Thomas Dooley offered the following foods on his menu: “the choicest cuts of meat, the different variety of game, changes of vegetables daily, and receive directly from Morgan & Co’s large oyster beds (selects),  the choicest and largest eastern oysters, also crabs and shrimp weekly. Fresh and salt water fish.”  Dooley hired only the best cooks at his establishment.

That year, the Conroy building was well underway of becoming a first class establishment as it was preparing its self to compete in business against the following hotels and boarding houses: the New City hotel, proprietor Henry Clineschmidt, it was located on Market Street near Tehama Street. A two-story lodging house owned by A.S. Castle on California Street between Butte and Tehama Streets. It was eventually leased to S. Clein. The Major hotel which was located opposite of the Castle lodging house and post office, proprietors Kunene & Blohm. The Paragon hotel was located opposite of the Redding Depot, proprietor George Groves, and later the Del Monte hotel which was under construction. The Del Monte hotel’s construction was almost completed by October 8, 1887.

The original two-story structure of the Golden Eagle hotel included forty-two rooms on the second floor and the first floor included a meeting parlor (banquet room), Dooley’s Restaurant and a bar. Additional business offices were built into the building also on the first floor; some were described in an earlier paragraph. Both floors of this building were connected by a staircase. This hotel was based on what is called the “European plan” where the owners only charged their customers the rent of the room and not for meals. There were additional charges for the meals.

The imposing brick work of the Golden Eagle hotel gave the local media the following to boast about on October 1, 1887:

There will be a solid block of brick from the corner of California and Yuba Streets to the corner of Placer and Market Streets. Two and a half blocks.” (SIC)

That month, Barney Conroy finally received his new furniture that he had ordered for his business. Some of the furniture included the tables and chairs for his banquet room. He also received a liquor license which was granted to him by the Shasta County Tax Collector so he could begin operating his new bar. Then on, November 12, 1887, the local media announced the following...

Barney Conroy has christened his hotel the “Golden Eagle”.  It took several of them to build it.

In November, a jeweler by the name of B.H. Bacon a former resident of San Louise Obispo relocated to Redding in 1887, and opened a jewelry and confectionary store inside the Golden Eagle hotel. Bacon was also a chocolatier that made fresh homemade chocolates and candies. He also packaged them and sold them inside his store. Bacon also sold American watches manufactured by Seth Thomas and other brands from different clock manufacturers.

Another new addition that month to the Golden Eagle hotel was the law office of William D. Biegle, a native of New York, and a former miner. Biegle originally mined for gold at Whiskeytown. Whiskeytown is where he lived and he commuted to work in Redding each day.  Fraternal societies began using the hotel’s parlor room (banquet room) for many luncheons and other events as well. Conroy enjoyed having a successful business. During December of 1887, the first doctor to run a practice inside the hotel opened an office inside room number eleven. His name was Doctor J.A. Dawson. Dawson was a former resident of Oakland, and he relocated to Redding that month. Eventually, he found a more suitable office space in Redding and moved out of the hotel.

During May of the following year, the Bennett-Mackey Cable Company moved into the Golden Eagle hotel after a business office became available to rent from Conroy, when a former tenant had moved out. Local and national newspapers were being sold by a man with the surname of Woodward. Woodward operated Woodwards Newspaper Stand which was also located inside the Golden Eagle hotel.

Then in, November of 1888, John T. Wiseman purchased stock within the McCormick-Saeltzer Company of Redding, and he saw a need to relocate his store from his father-in-law’s hotel into the building of the McCormick-Saeltzer Company which was then located on the west side of Market Street. It was general merchants Abram & Karsky of Weaverville who occupied the store space that formerly belonged to the John T. Wiseman Company inside Conroy’s Golden Eagle hotel. Then in, December of that year, a second doctor by the name of Benjamin E. Stevenson, M.D., a physician and surgeon opened his doctor’s office inside the hotel. It was a regular business office and not a regular hotel room like the previous doctor had.

Conroy sold his hostelry to John Spellman and his partner E. Kern in 1889, and they became the new proprietors of the Golden Eagle hotel. Under their ownership, the Golden Eagle hotel included: Dooley’s Restaurant, the Golden Eagle Barber Shop, and a bar. By that time, Dooley’s Restaurant had changed hands and it was now owned by J.H. Duffield who offered the same menu that Thomas Dooley did.

Under the new ownership, a surprising suicide took place in the Golden Eagle hotel on March 21, 1889, when the body of C.E. Crookshanks was discovered in room number 35. It had been determined that poisoning from morphia sulphate was the cause of his death. He was found by both Spellman and Kern. Crookshanks was a native of Oregon who registered at the hotel on the 18th of that month. The sheriff and the coroner were both notified of the death, and a Coroner's Inquest was held upon the body.

It’s possible that it was Spellman & Kern who sold this establishment to James M. Bryan and his brother Thomas D. Bryan. During the 1890s new businesses were brought into the Golden Eagle hotel building which included: a bar, and a billiards room. There was also the Golden Eagle Barber Shop whose proprietor was E. Kern, the Golden Eagle Jewelry Store whose proprietor was Adolph Dobrowsky. The Redding Cigar Factory, and the Golden Eagle Cigar Store whose proprietor was John W. Potts.

The Daily Free Press newspaper of Redding published this advertisement on August 27, 1897, by the Bryan Brothers for their Golden Eagle hotel, offering a first class service in Redding and free bus to and from all trains.

Then on, May 1, 1899, the Bryan brothers leased the hotel to J.H. Leveck who ended up buying the hotel from the Bryan brothers, and Leveck became the new proprietor. It was J.H. Leveck, who turned a room of this hotel into his residence. Room rates at the Golden Eagle hotel cost travelers $1.00  a day and upwards, and the meals were twenty-five cents a plate. The Golden Eagle hotel flourished with success and Leveck saw a need to improve the building.

In September, Leveck negotiated a contract with the Holt & Gregg Company to add a third-story to this building. In addition there would be fifty-eight new rooms, which gave the hotel a total of 100 rooms. As construction began the hotel kept busy with new daily arrivals checking in.

During 1904, Leveck sold out to the Hurst siblings, George & Ferdinand, who purchased the hotel and operated this hostelry for a short time. They kept the same rates Leveck offered. That year, it was W.H. Nutting who was the proprietor of the Golden Eagle Barber Shop, a clean cut would have cost you fifteen cents. Two years later, the Hurst brothers eventually sold the establishment to the Gronwoldt siblings. It was George Gronwoldt and Augustas H. Gronwoldt who took possession of the hotel on March 15, 1906, and they began operating it. 

The next week on March 24, 1906, the pioneer Bernard "Barney" Conroy died in San Francisco at the home of his son-in-law, John T. Wiseman. He died after a brief illness. Conroy was the original founder of the Golden Eagle hotel. The news of his death was heralded all over the state by the media and many people mourned his death.

The Gronwoldt’s had a hotel monopoly in Redding and at one time owned the Alta House and the Redding Hotel as well as other establishments. They had a knack for the hotel business and they promoted the name of the Golden Eagle as much as possible by slapping the name on china, silverware, hand towels, ivory soap bars with special wrapping, match boxes, and other novelty items. It was Augustas H. Gronwoldt who became a four-time Mayor of Redding.

Above: the Golden Eagle Cigar Store on July 4, 1907. L-R: are the new owners, John Bartosh and George Bartosh who purchased this store from John W. Potts at the beginning of the month. Courtesy of Chet Sunde.

The Gronwoldts eventually sold some shares of the hotel to James Hoyle, and it was Hoyle who sold his interest in the hotel to Henry Wagner of Sacramento in June of 1909. Wagner was previously employed as a railroad man and he became a new partner with the Gronwoldts. 

During May of 1914, the Gronwoldt’s planned additional improvements to the hotel by including the installment of a heating and air conditioning system at a cost of $3,500. The improvements on the agenda included a new kitchen, and a new dining room, and a remodel of the entire first floor.  The media speculated that the upgrades would take all summer to complete.

Another addition to the building was a wireless telegraph tower for a new telegraph station at Redding and the spot chosen for the tower was the roof top of the Golden Eagle hotel. The man in charge of installing the new tower in August of 1914 was the jeweler, Adolph Dobrowsky, who was also the watch inspector of the Southern Pacific for the Shasta County division. Dobrowsky would receive telegraph reports from Mount Hamilton through radio transmission. 

In 1917, my great-great paternal uncle Otto M. Tuggle was employed by the Gronwoldt siblings as a bell hop at this hotel. He worked for them during a three year span. Years, later Tuggle wrote down some of his fond memories of working at the Golden Eagle hotel in Redding which are kept in the archives of the Shasta Historical Society.

The restaurant inside the hotel during the 1920s was called the Golden Eagle Grill. During my research the earliest address that I have found for the Golden Eagle hotel is from 1926 when it was located at 425 Yuba Street. That year, the first floor of the hostelry included the following: the Golden Eagle Drug Company, the Golden Eagle Jewelry Store, and the Golden Eagle Cigar Store. Two years later, the first floor stayed the same with the exception of the Golden Eagle Drug Company which appears to have been a short lived business venture.

In the decade of the 1930s the hotel’s address changed from 425 Yuba Street to 1449 Yuba Street, and it now included the Golden Eagle Coffee Shop. The coffee shop replaced the former Golden Eagle Grill, and it advertised as serving the best meals at moderate prices. The first floor also included the following: the Golden Eagle Liquor Store and the Golden Eagle Tavern. In 1938, the Grownoldt brothers still had ownership of this hotel, it appears that the third parties ownership dissolved long before this year commenced.

Two years later, the Gronwoldt's still kept a first class hostelry. Dobrowsky still owned the Golden Eagle Jewelry Store, and James Bartosh kept a variety of cigars in stock at the Golden Eagle Cigar Store. The Golden Eagle Tavern served mixed drinks and cocktails, while the Golden Eagle Liquor Store provided locals with all sorts of packaged liquors and wines. A number of small robberies occurred during the years too, which gained the Gronwoldt's and other various businesses inside the hotel unwanted media press.

After the death of Augustas H. Gronwoldt Sr., in Redding on June 15, 1945, his son Augustas H. Gronwoldt Jr., and his widow Sophronia (Brown) Gronwoldt became the new proprietors of the hotel. They operated it until they were bought out by Clark R. Nye and David W. Hinds in 1958. Then on, September 22, 1962, a ravaging fire destroyed the historic Golden Eagle hotel. The following people were the three individuals whose life’s perished in the fire: Charles Brack of Idaho Falls, Idaho, Edward De Bob of Eureka, California, and a local Redding area rancher named Herb Johnson.

During the excitement of the blaze people were departing the burning building any way they could which included jumping from the third-story and landing in the street. This caused critical injuries to their bodies and quite a number of people ended up injured and in the local hospital. To this day, it’s a well-remembered establishment by many local residents.


In 1961, the parents of nationally renowned Hollywood actor Tom Hanks (born in 1956) were employed at the Golden Eagle hotel. Hanks’ mother Janet (Frager) Hanks was the hotel manager at that time and his father Amos M. Hanks was a cook at the Golden Eagle Coffee Shop. Tom Hanks and three of his older siblings would often visit their parents while they worked there. They lived in a house at 2132 West Street in Redding; the former Hanks home is still standing today at that location. At a later date, Hanks’ parents divorced and it was Janet (Frager) Hanks who relocated to Red Bluff.

Above: the Golden Eagle hotel with early day automobiles parked in front of the hostelry. Circa, 1920s. Courtesy of Steve Brui.

Above: an interior view of the Golden Eagle hotel banquet room, circa 1920s to 1930s. Courtesy of Steve Brui.

Above: the interior view of the Golden Eagle hotel lobby, 1941. (Public Domain.)

Above: the interior view of the Golden Eagle Coffee Shop, 1941. (Public Domain.)

Above: an interior lodging room of the Golden Eagle hotel, 1941. (Public Domain.)

Above: the Golden Eagle hotel at Redding, California, postcard by J.H. Eastman in 1945. Courtesy of Steve Brui.

Fire gutted the historic Golden Eagle hotel building on September 22, 1962. The building was in such bad shape it couldn't be remodeled, and it was soon demolished. (Public Domain.)

Above: this marker dedicates some of the early history of the Golden Eagle hotel which operated on this lot from 1887- 1962. It was dedicated as a historic site on September 22, 2017 by the Grindstone Club in cooperation with the City of Redding. The site is located where the double parking structure is on Yuba and California Streets. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on October 3, 2017.


Above: this plate is from the Golden Eagle Grill restaurant. Its manufactured by Warwick. Warwick's iconic decal on the back of the plate dates back to the 1920s. From the Gronwoldt period. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle.

Above: an opened Golden Eagle hotel reverse strike match box, complete with matches. From the Gronwoldt period. Manufactured by the Diamond Match Box Company of Chico, California in the 1920s. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle.

Above: a hand towel from the Golden Eagle hotel. White with blue pin stripe and white lettering which states, "Golden Eagle Hotel - Redding". From the Gronwoldt period. Manufacturer: unknown, manufactured in the 1920s. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle. 

Above: an opened Golden Eagle hotel reverse strike match box, complete with matches (same as below). Advertising the Coffee Shop and Tavern. From the Gronwoldt period. Manufactured by the Ohio Match Company of San Francisco, California in the 1930s. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle.

Above: a closed Golden Eagle hotel reverse strike match box, complete with matches (same as above). Photo of the hotel on the front cover. From the Gronwoldt period. Manufactured by the Ohio Match Company of San Francisco, California in the 1930s. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle.


1880 U.S. Census

Barney Conroy’s brick - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, May 21, 1887

Holt & Gregg - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, May 21, 1887

A laborer fell - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, July 16, 1887

Furious Flames - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, July 30, 1887

Dooley - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, September 24, 1887

The Del Monte Hotel - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, September 24, 1887

Dr. J.A. Dawson – The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 17, 1887

The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, October 1, 1887

Attention - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, January 7, 1888

Howell & Wood - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, March 3, 1888

The Bennett- Mackey Cable Company - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding May 26, 1888

Our County Dads - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, October 8, 1888

Suicide - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, March 23, 1889

John W. Potts - The Daily Free Press newspaper of Redding, August 10, 1897

John W. Potts - The Daily Free Press newspaper of Redding, August 8, 1899

1899 City of Redding Directory

Golden Eagle Hotel advertisement - The Republican Free Press newspaper of Redding, September 2, 1899

Local Happenings - Red Bluff Daily News newspaper of Red Bluff, September 20, 1899

1900 U.S. Census

Barney Conroy Is Dead - The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, March 27, 1906

Buys Golden Eagle Interest - The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, June 26, 1909

To Improve Redding Hotel - The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, May 28, 1914

Redding To Have Wireless - The Sacramento newspaper of Sacramento, August 11, 1914

World War 1 Draft Registration Card for Otto Tuggle, June 5, 1917.

No Arrests Yet In Hotel Safe Money Mystery - The Searchlight newspaper of Redding, February 12, 1929

1938 City of Redding Directory

1940 City of Redding Directory

1951 City of Redding Direcotry

1960 City of Redding Directory

1961 City of Redding Directory

The Record Searchlight newspaper of Redding, September 23, 1962

6 Dead Or Missing As Fire Destroys Hotel At Redding, The San Bernardino Sun newspaper, September 23, 1962

Two Killed In Redding Hotel Fire - The Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper of Santa Cruz, September 23, 1962

Searchers Have Found A Third Body - The La Habra Star newspaper of La Habra, September 24, 1962

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