Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa is a triumphant symbol of the dreams and ambitions of its various owners. There has always been a certain magical quality about this storied Bay Area bed and breakfast inn; and it has attracted a colorful collection of hosts and guests since opening its doors in 1885.
The earliest roots of this inviting Northern California bed and breakfast can perhaps be traced to the 1700s -- when Spanish explorers in the area known today as Sausalito noticed small "saucitos," or willow trees, growing along the stream banks of this lush region. Between 1869 and 1874, the town exploded in size as a railroad, potable water system, and ferry line to San Francisco were built. With this expansion came new entrepreneurs, visitors, and residents.
This pioneering breed included William Barrett, Secretary-Treasurer for the San Francisco Gas and Electric Company and a prominent member of San Francisco society. In 1885, he and his wife Clara built a lavish "casa" on a hillside overlooking the center of town. The location offered a wide-angle view of San Francisco Bay, which teemed with the powerful freight ships, elegant yachts, and sidewheeler ferryboats. The plot of land itself was an extravagant collage of huge camellia bushes, lilac, orange and lemon trees, sturdy oaks, and flowering acacia and pine trees.
The Barretts modeled their dream home after the Victorian-style Italianate architecture
popular in the 1870s and 1880s. This architecture was inspired by the forms and ornaments of the 15th- and 16th-century Mannerist periods, as well as by Baroque Italian design. Although Casa Madrona - as it later came to be known -- encompassed 6,600 square feet, it only cost $7,500 to build - a sum that would barely cover bathrooms renovations today!
In 1906, after moving across the Bay to Oakland, Barrett sold his home to attorney John Patrick Gallagher - who converted it into the original Casa Madrona Hotel. For nearly 40 years, it was a very successful Bay Area bed and breakfast and hotel. In fact, during his ownership, Gallagher constructed five new cottages, or outbuildings, to accommodate demand.
In the early 1940s, the Gallaghers sold Casa Madrona to Floyd Allensby, a San Francisco real estate broker and hotelier. During World War II, the property was used as temporary lodging for military families in transit. After the war, however, it fell into disrepair, and became a "crash pad" for city's burgeoning "beatnik" population. Mattresses were flung on doors in the bedrooms, paint was peeling off of the walls, and rain leaked through the roof and around the windows.
But salvation came in the form of a French family. Robert Deschamps, his wife Marie-Louise, and their children, Marie-France and Jean-Marie, immigrated to California in 1959. Upon arrival in Sausalito, they saw an advertisement seeking a manager for Casa Madrona. Intrigued, they responded, fell in love with the property, and took over the lease from Floyd Allensby.
The family closed the hotel, evicted the beatniks, and began extensive renovations. Casa Madrona soon gleamed once again, and business was better than ever. The Deschamps also opened Le Vivoir Restaurant onsite. The eatery instantly garnered critical and commercial praise and drew celebrities such as Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Warren Beatty, and the rock band Pink Floyd.
But disaster struck in 1973. Casa Madrona's foundation was severely damaged by a series of mudslides, declared unsafe by city officials, and scheduled for demolition. After years of legal wrangling, attorney John Mays took charge of the mansion and grounds in 1976 -- vowing to restore them to their former splendor. During the successful restoration process that followed, 16 hillside cottages were added to the property. In 1980 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a treasured landmark.
Casa Madrona saw more changes in November 2003 with the addition of Poggio, which serves Northern Italian cuisine. In addition, it has undergone major renovations and additions to increase the number of guest rooms from 34 to 63, while also introducing a spectacular, 3,000-square-foot spa. The newest wing of the hotel, which boasts ultra-modern, boutique-style rooms, was miraculously converted from a parking garage - originally built in 1923 - marking the first renovation of this type in history! In December 2003, Casa Madrona also unveiled a boardroom, private dining room, and three new function rooms that, combined, can accommodate groups of up to 150 guests.
We invite you to experience firsthand the glory and allure of our celebrated Sausalito California bed and breakfast inn. Share in our rich history, graceful gardens, enchanting vistas, and gently scented orange blossoms.
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Nestled in a lush hillside overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa features an all