• Marci Shadd

1903 Catastrophic Fire in Biggs

Updated: Dec 3, 2019

From the start of ownership of the hotel, people have been asking me several questions, the most common perhaps are the following... When was it built? How many rooms did it have? Is it haunted?

We know the hotel was built after a devastating fire burned a large part of downtown Biggs on August 8, 1903. There are records stating that there was a hotel on the corner of B Street previously per this map dated 1874, but it along with several other buildings were all destroyed.

Street view following the fire of 1903 in Biggs, CA

Street view following the fire of 1903 in Biggs, CA

I'm sure it was a rough blow to the community. Several fires had taken out large sections in the past, so this wasn't new, but they were a large flourishing community and a bulk of investors stepped up to rebuild an even bigger and better hotel.

The Madera Mercury states that the building had 45 rooms and was a modern hotel. I'm assuming the rooms counted would include the restaurant, check in room, kitchen and any other used spaces. Roaming around we've only added up to around 33 rooms that might have been rented out, so this would make sense. Conveniently most of the rooms with their doors are still numbered both upstairs and downstairs.

Another confirmation of the date, is that we have found that written on the backside of the wood trim work, in cursive February 1905, as well as several names. I will be researching those men and share a bit more information on those men in the future.

A lesser known fact from that time period was that the business district ran along the railroad tracks on 7th street (1st street at that time period) rather than only down B Street.. The Planter's Hotel, another very popular local hotel ran along the tracks and was open for many years. As I dig down deeper into that rabbit's hole, I'll be sharing more information on what business' were there during the time. It was a surprisingly busy little community!

Last question... Are there ghosts? I've always replied that I hoped so, because I could charge more rent! lol! Well honestly I haven't met any yet... I've been by myself in the creepy 3rd story attic, with no electricity in the middle of the night, with not a lot of floor under me thinking, shouldn't I be getting a weird scary feeling? There were random pigeons, and broken windows... and yet I felt nothing. If there are spirits roaming about, they are leaving me alone... maybe they are happy that there's a bit more life in the old building these days? I'm going to go with that.

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