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Style Magazine

Cary House Hotel

Mar 31, 2009 05:00PM ● By Super Admin

The historic Cary House Hotel on Main Street in Placerville is more than just another place for an overnight stay. It is known as the “Jewel of Placerville.” Standing with its original brickwork, the Cary House’s interior includes antique furnishings, such as an 1876 Chickering Square Grand piano with its original strings, and a stained glass piece representing the seasons of the Gold Country, crafted by local artist Wendy Wythe at age 17. In a cabinet nestled between the winter and fall stained glass piece is an old radio, which guests may explore and travel back in time. The Cary House’s 40 rooms, many of which include kitchenettes, are each uniquely decorated and have an original theme complete with historic memorabilia and vintage décor.

William Cary founded the Cary House in 1857. The hotel originally had 77 guest rooms with luxuries of its time like a bathroom on each floor, hot and cold running water, and a brick exterior which was the safest due to its fireproof quality. During the historic building’s early years, the Cary House served as a stage stop for the Wells Fargo Lines and welcomed pioneers traveling through old Placerville. During the Washoe silver excitement, $90,000,000 in bullion allegedly passed through the doors, and $600 worth of gold was discovered in the basement in the early 1900s.

The blue crystal displayed behind the front desk is actually locked, as it is poisonous and for decoration only. The original logbook for the hotel hides money from the Civil War underneath and includes Mark Twain’s signature. Other famous past guests include President Grant, Betty Davis, John Studebaker, and politician Horace Greeley whom reportedly addressed the miners in Old Hangtown from the Cary House iron balcony in 1859. Brooke Shields and Lou Diamond Phillips are more recent famous visitors.

The Cary House saw many different owners and in 1915 the original building was completely rebuilt and renamed Hotel Placerville. In 1926, it became the Raffles Hotel and it was not until the late 1970s when Doug and Peggy Milton began a restoration process that the name was changed back to the original Cary House.

Visitors can ride the famous old elevator, the second oldest operating elevator west of the Mississippi, built in 1926. There is also a mysterious safe in one of the hallways with a missing combination. Even the hotel owners do not know what hides within it.

The hotel has two meeting facilities that are able to accommodate about 60 guests each; one of which is an elegant outdoor courtyard called The Fountain Plaza, which is draped with 90-year-old ivy.

The Cary House Hotel sits at the end of the now busy and narrow Main Street, and is a hop, skip and a jump away from many specialty boutiques, cafés, beer and wine tasting rooms, books, and ice cream.

For more information on the Cary House Hotel, visit