History of the Columbia City Hotel
|The present City Hotel complex has evolved from its origins in 1854, when George Morgan purchased the property from the Yaney brothers, with fire being the major factor. The original structure purchased by Morgan was destroyed by fire a mere five days later. Morgan then rebuilt two frame buildings, opening one as the “English Ale and Porter House”. Two Years later, the south frame building was replaced by a brick two story building. The fire of 1857 severely damaged the brick building, and destroyed the frame structure to the north. Morgan repaired the brick building and extended it to the north, giving him a two story hotel with 42 feet of frontage on Main Street. The Morgan family lived in the rebuilt building, and operated it as the “What Cheer House”. The upper floor was used for theatricals and concerts and was known as the “Columbia Opera House”.|
In 1865, the building adjacent to the south of the brick hotel was purchased by Morgan; giving the hotel 60 feet of frontage on Main Street. In 1866 and 1867 the building was again damaged by fire and each time repaired. By 1871, the hotel was known as “Morgan’s Hotel” and the upstairs hall as the “Columbia Theater and Music Hall”. In 1874 the name was changed to “Morgan’s City Hotel”. A second story was added to the south building in 1876, expanding the upstairs hall. By 1890, the second story had been converted to 20 sleeping rooms, and an Open Air Pavilion was constructed to the north of the hotel in 1888. There was also a large office, a bar, a sitting room and a big dining room in the hotel.
After George Morgan’s death in 1891, the City Hotel was first operated by his wife, Margaret. It was later leased to John Nash and finally Morgan’s son, Ralph, took over the hotel operation. A two story wooden addition was made to the back of the building in 1902, and added a kitchen on the lower floor and toilets and baths on the upper floor. In 1911, this addition was destroyed by fire and the brick hotel was damaged. Ralph Morgan then sold the City Hotel to Dante and Mary Cinelli. In January 1912, the Cinellis rebuilt the wooden addition, which had six rooms upstairs and a kitchen downstairs, repaired the brick building, and reopened the City Hotel. The Cinellis operated the Hotel into the 1930s when it was closed and fell into disrepair.
In 1969, the Columbia Community College and the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation began a cooperative project to restore the City Hotel. With a federal grant from the Economic Development Administration and State matching funds, the City Hotel was restored, and reopened in October 1975.