Hotel Edinburgh leaves legacy for fire protection in Beaumont
For more than a century, the weathered brochure for the Hotel Edinburgh has survived in a throwaway, often paperless world.
It was neatly tucked away in the belongings of former Beaumont mayor Guy Bogart (1883-1957.)
Now, the pocket-size, four-page brochure is being preserved for posterity by the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society.
As you look at those pages, it’s like entering a time machine and hurtling back to the dawn of cityhood. (In 1887, the three-story Victorian-style building opened as the Beaumont Hotel, but later closed, according to a book by local historian Elmer Wallace Holmes. In 1907, the ornate-looking building reopened as the Hotel Edinburgh and came to a fiery end in Aug. 1909 — about three years before cityhood.) The old hotel was located where the El Rancho Restaurant and Best Western Rancho Motel are on Beaumont Avenue
Early 20th century accounts tell us that steam engines puffed their way into town and disgorged a sea of passengers at the train depot. Many stayed at Hotel Edinburgh, with its big, inviting front porch, and its tall towers with shuttered windows where guests could survey the landscape. The hotel guests were drawn by advertisements in out-of-town newspapers and by sales pitches delivered in packed rooms in downtown Los Angeles.
They came to Beaumont searching for a much-touted agricultural paradise—a place in the sun where land and water was cheap and plentiful.
By gently turning the page, we glimpse a hospitality industry that helped settle the Pass. It was a time before Highway 99 and motor courts. It was a time before the freeway and modern hotels with their Wi-Fi, Jacuzzis and complimentary breakfasts.
It was an era when Hotel Edinburgh guests could stay for a week and enjoy three-meals-a-day for a mere $9-to-$15 weekly. “Unsurpassed For Health, Rest And Recreation,” proprietor David Cochrane proclaimed in the age-old brochure.
The guest brochure also touted wintry, snow-capped mountains that were said to have “views as beautiful as anything in Switzerland.” It was a place with the “most healthful” climate in the state, and grounds that boasted tennis and croquet courts.
Rising from the ashes
But like many early hotels in the 20th Century, the Edinburgh was not destined to survive. The Victorian structure cost $40,000 to build, according to Holmes. A calamitous fire destroyed the grande dame of Beaumont hotels before cityhood. (The cause of the fire has been lost to history.) But the red hot flames couldn’t stop the hotel from making one last contribution.
Newspapers in the early 1900s recount how many incorporation supporters rallied the town after watching the Edinburgh go up in flames. The town needed more fire protection, so neighbors banded together, and the notion of a fire department was one of the priorities on their minds when supporters campaigned for cityhood. On Nov. 18, 1912, local townsfolk voted for incorporation—the charred memory of the Edinburgh Hotel still fresh in their minds.