The history of the Mizpah Hotel began during the great Nevada silver boom when US Senator George Nixon and businessmen George Wingfield, Cal Brougher, and Bob Govan envisioned a high-class hotel furnished with an eating and drinking establishment to conduct their business.
Construction of the hotel began in 1907, replacing the site of the former one-story Mizpah Saloon and Grill. The design was led by renowned architect Morrill J. Curtis, recognized for building the Overland Hotels in Reno, the Grand Opera House, Golden Block Hotel, and Nevada Block Hotel. At a cost of $200,000, the Mizpah Hotel was completed and celebrated its grand opening on November 17, 1908. Boasting five floors, the hotel was the tallest building in Nevada at the time.
The Mizpah Hotel became the gathering place for the mining and political elite of Nevada; such prominent people included Tasker Oddie, who became governor of Nevada and later US Senator; Key Pittman, Nevada’s beloved Senator; and Henry Calvin “Cal” Brougher, the director of the Mizpah Hotel Corporation of Tonopah. Just as it was intended, the Mizpah Hotel was the center of social and economic activities in Tonopah during the boom days of silver mining. Tonopah’s silver production was second only to that of the Virginia City mines. Other notable guests of the hotel include the notorious Wyatt Earp, who settled for a time in Tonopah, along with his friends Tex Rickard and Jack Dempsey, who ran the local saloons, acting as bouncers at the Mizpah, and promoting fights.
Many original elements of the Mizpah Hotel remain on the property today. An electric elevator, the first west of the Mississippi, was built into the five-story structure and currently still in use. The Tonopah Banking Corporation vault is still intact and can be viewed in its original state in the hotel lobby.
Also left behind is what some would say is the spirit of a young woman known as the Lady in Red. As legend has it, the Lady was a woman of the evening who offered companionship to the travelers to the Mizpah and Tonopah in the early 1900s. One evening while leaving the room of another, she was spotted by a jealous ex-lover and was brutally murdered in the hallway of the 5th floor, just outside the suite that bears her name. Many guests and employees through the years have sensed her presence and even reported close encounters with her spirit.
Through the years the Mizpah experienced many ups and downs as the mining trade waned. The hotel was again closed in 1999 until 2011 when Fred and Nancy Cline of Sonoma, California purchased the hotel. The Mizpah and the town of Tonopah hold a special place for the Clines as it was Nancy’s family who has contributed to the rich history of the town and hotel. Nancy's grandmother Emma Bunting was the first Postal Matron of nearby Goldfield in the early 1900s and her great-uncle Harry Ramsey was lured to Tonopah by the great silver rush. Restoring the Mizpah to its original grandeur and glory has been a labor of love for the Clines.
The Mizpah Hotel is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.