Imag­ine a time when horse drawn car­riages and cov­ered wag­ons car­ried hope­ful pio­neers to the gold coun­try and dreams of strik­ing gold became a real­ity for many.  The vision of that Vic­to­rian Era was for a life of rus­tic ele­gance and ease sur­rounded by majes­tic pine trees, rag­ing rivers, wide open spaces and pic­turesque ponds.

The path to such a life wasn’t always paved with the gold they dreamed of, but rather with the vision and lead­er­ship of many hard work­ing pio­neers.  Stephen and Clara Smith were among the first to invest in this boom­town known today as Grass Val­ley.  They built the Adams Express Office and the Golden Gate Saloon which sadly, were destroyed by fire in 1855 along with most of Grass Val­ley.  The Smiths rebuilt the pop­u­lar saloon as a one story field­stone build­ing with a brick façade, mak­ing it safer from the threat of another fire.  The Golden Gate Saloon is the old­est, con­tin­u­ously oper­ated saloon west of the Mis­sis­sippi River.

In 1862 a rel­a­tive, Charles Smith, built the cur­rent struc­ture and named it the Exchange Hotel.  It was noted for its con­ve­nience to the local Gold Exchange.  When the Gold Exchange closed, 18 ounces of pure gold were found in the car­pet­ing.  Like other local build­ings that were con­structed, the hotel was for­ti­fied against fire dam­age with heavy iron doors and the roof was cov­ered with a 12 inch layer of dirt and brick.

In 1879 the hotel was pur­chased by Ellen and Daniel Hol­brooke and was given its cur­rent name.  Daniel Hol­brooke passed away in 1884, but Ellen con­tin­ued to man­age and oper­ate the hotel until 1908.

In 1971, while work­ing on a down­town Grass Val­ley beau­ti­fi­ca­tion project for the busi­ness com­mu­nity, long­time res­i­dent Arletta Dou­glas, inspected the neglected hotel and real­ized that The Hol­brooke Hotel was indeed the hid­den trea­sure of Main Street and eagerly sought help from local cit­i­zens to begin restora­tion.  In 1982, hotel guest rooms were restored and in 1983, the adja­cent his­toric Pur­cell House was acquired and 11 addi­tional rooms were added there.  While con­tin­u­ing to be a vital cen­ter for local res­i­dents, the hotel was sold to Howard and Peggy Levine in 1991.  The hotel was owned and man­aged by them until 2002, when it was sold to the Weaver Fam­ily.  The new hotel pro­pri­etors are Ian and Susan Garfinkel.

Over the years, the Hotel has hosted many famous guests that included Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleve­land, Ben­jamin Har­ri­son, James Garfield and prize fight­ers, “Gen­tle­man Jim” Cor­bett and Bob Fitzsim­mons.  Famous authors Mark Twain and Bret Harte were also guests of the Hol­brooke Hotel.  The hotel was fre­quented by enter­tain­ers Lola Mon­tez, Lotta Crab­tree , and Emma Nevada.  Rumor has it that the infa­mous high­way­man, Black Bart was also a guest of the hotel.

In 1974 The Hol­brooke Hotel was declared a Cal­i­for­nia State Land­mark and proudly dis­plays a plaque at the entrance to the hotel, com­mem­o­rat­ing that declaration.