In its beginnings, the Stag Hotel, which recently suffered major fire damage, was a classy place.
Evening Pajaronian, March 15, 1927: "The new Hotel Ritz, all modern, and including thirty-two rooms, is now well under way, on Wall Street, across from the Methodist Church, and will prove a most credible asset to Watsonville. While aiding materially in solving the housing which is so acute here ... The Hotel Ritz will have a handsome lobby, large and inviting, and real pleasant rooms, steam heat, and altogether a beautiful hotel."
August 31, 1929 EP: The new Hotel Ritz on Wall Street will be
formally opened to the public this evening ... Many of the rooms have private baths connected, but all have hot and cold water ... each bed is equipped with Simmons Beauty Rest bed springs and mattresses. To quote himself, Mr. Hiatt is a "crank" on good beds and he purchased the finest ... on the market for his guests ... The walls of the rooms are stippling work, giving a mottled appearance, especially restful. The carpet is deep blue, harmonizingwith the walls. Each bathroom is painted in a soft grey, giving an airy and light appearance ... It is Mr. Hiatt's plan to conduct his hotel in such a manner that will bring credit upon himself and this town from traveling people. In other words to put Watsonville on the map, a city of high class hotels ... 15 artistic rooms added to the RItz Hotel make it one of the State's best ... A large artistic neon electric sign blazes forth the name of the hotel and makes the vicinity of the hotel as bright as day during the evening."
Then came 1971: "We've changed ... our name — our policies — our management. What was formerly The Ritz Hotel is the ... Stag Hotel. We offer: Rooms with cooking units - linen service — newly decorated rooms — reasonable rates. Reservations now being taken. Stag Hotel for men, 117 Wall Street (Now West Beach) (RP April 23).
I'd never known it to be anything else but "The Stag." Family friends bought and operated The Stage in the ‘70s, and I remember visiting a place I had no idea was once called "The Ritz."
Mom and I would visit in the owner's living quarters, which were rooms behind the front desk. Sometimes I'd peek down the hall. I never saw anyone. It was always unusually quiet. The lobby had a TV that wasn't on. The lighting was dim. Does anybody else live here? I must have mused. Little did I know the history of how the quiet came to be.
R-P, December 23, 1975: "When they bought the place, it was known as the Ritz Hotel. The Jackson's say the wall, the plumbing, the wiring and furniture were in terrible shape. Rats and cockroaches abounded.And even worse the hotel was a veritable cathouse. Hookers rented out rooms to take care of business. ‘The only way we felt we could live in the place was to turn it into a hotel for men only,’ Mrs. Jackson explained ... Gradually the residents began to like the strict new rules (No visitors in rooms. Quiet at all times. Absolutely no noise after 11 p.m.) ... ‘Now everything is quiet and peaceful,’ Mrs. Jackson beams."
Who would have known that once Watsonville, like Paris still
does, had its own Ritz Hotel?
Charles Birimisa is a resident of Watsonville.
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