Landmark California hotel, nearly 100 years old, destroyed by fire

<span>Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze at the historic Hotel Marysville in Marysville, California, on 15 June 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Marysville Fire Department of California</span>
Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze at the historic Hotel Marysville in Marysville, California, on 15 June 2024.Photograph: Marysville Fire Department of California

An almost century-old historic hotel in northern California that once hosted Babe Ruth and Bing Crosby was destroyed by a fire over the weekend.

Crews responded to Hotel Marysville around 10pm on Saturday night and tried to save the long-vacant 98-year-old inn, but the flames burned away the building’s internal components and left only a “skeleton”, Kyle Heggstrom, the Marysville fire chief, told the Sacramento Bee.

“Crews made numerous internal attempts to try to stop the fire on both the third and fourth [floor] and, again, it just continued to just be outside of our grasp,” Heggstrom said.

Firefighters with the Marysville fire department and surrounding areas sought to extinguish the flames for two hours until officials determined the building was not safe to occupy, Heggstrom said to the newspaper.

No one was believed to be inside and no injuries have been reported, the fire department said. The cause of the blaze is not yet known and officials will conduct an arson investigation.

The fire could mark the end for the landmark brick building, which for decades has been an iconic feature of the skyline in Marysville, a Gold Rush-era community of 12,700 located 40 miles north of the state’s capital of Sacramento.

The Georgian revival-style hotel was built in 1926 and designed by Edward Glass, a San Francisco architect who had worked on projects for media magnate William Randolph Hearst. The building was to be “practically fireproof”, according to a historical account of the region’s development.

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It was built for roughly $500,000 and had 132 bedrooms and a lobby with large skylights of amber-colored glass, bronze-bowled chandeliers and reproduction Persian rugs from New York, according to a 1926 article on the business from the Western Hotel Reporter.

“It is no ordinary event in the history, not only of Marysville, but of Yuba and Sutter counties as well,” the article stated. “Citizens of two counties united to build it and they are justly proud of it.”

For decades, the hotel was a destination for movie stars, athletes and lawmakers, including Robert Stack and Lou Gehrig. The hotel ballroom had a floating dance floor that the Sacramento Bee described as an “engineering marvel”.

The building has been vacant since the late 1980s when the Hotel Marysville closed. Since 1992, the property has had five different owners, but none were able to do anything with it, the Marysville city manager told CBS13 in 2015.

The most recent owners, Urban Smart Growth, had hoped to renovate the building and construct apartments and retail spaces while honoring its historic character. But the company’s CEO died last year and the building was listed for sale, the Appeal-Democrat reported.

It was priced at $925,000 due to the extensive work needed and was reportedly close to selling.

The building was boarded up for years, its faded sign the most visible remnant of the grand hotel that the area had fought to build.