Friday, September 7, 2012

Window Shopping at the Hotel Shirley


On the left side of this photo, located in the Hotel Shirley building, is "Angels Everywear," a popular boutique which, I understand, is under new ownership.  The building itself has had several owners, and was first occupied by the Hawks and Copps Real Estate office.

Mr. Ammi Doubleday Hawks came to Sierra Madre in 1881.  He purchased 20 acres of land which adjoined that of his sister Frances, whose land was north of his, and who had come to Sierra Madre earlier, along with their mother.

Mr. Hawks was an investor and a ranch land developer, and he and the rest of his family came to Sierra Madre in 1887.  Also in 1887, he built this building, and went into real estate with partner Marcus Copps.  Mr. Hawks eventually began to develop his ranch and fruit packing projects, and his sister Frances ("Fannie") took over the building and ran it as the Tourist Hotel.

According to an article in the Sierra Madre Patch, written by Matt Hormann, the building went through several owners and business models after this time, including operating as a hotel, a bordello (!!) and a speakeasy.   It was even the site of a murder, where a woman killed her mother with an ax.  The article mentions a "notable absence of ghosts," according to current owner Judy Webb-Martin, who refurbished the building in 1998.

I find it noteworthy that, with all that is known about the building, no one seems to be certain when it was first called the Hotel Shirley.  Just another of life's little mysteries.


12 comments:

  1. i love the way you photographed this!

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  2. What a fascinating history. Shirley, whoever she was, must have had some sordid stories to tell. I agree the photo composition is fabulous!

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    1. Thanks, Susan! I'm dying to know how it all came about, but since Historians don't know, I don't see how I'll ever figure it out!

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  3. 10 out of 10, Adele, for your combination here of great photograph, punctuated with interesting history. I feel ashamed that I have not paid more attention to 'Sierra Madre' when I lived in Pasadena. Thanks for filling in a big hole daily :).

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    1. Thanks so much, LOL! I had no idea I was a hole-filler-iner - I'm proud to be so! No need to worry - it will be here on your next visit!

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  4. Oh my gosh, its history is like a script lifted straight out of Hollywood! Who would they send up from central casting? :) I wholeheartedly agree with others, love how you composed this!

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    1. Ooooh - I like that question! Thanks for the photo compliment. It means a lot, coming from all of you who are "real" photographers!

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  5. It's a great shot of a great building, and wonderful history! I love Matt Hormann's articles, too, a good choice of writers to quote.

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    1. Thanks, Petrea! I do love this building. And Matt Hormann's articles never fail to impress.

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