Hotel La Rose

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Discover the Hotel La Rose, built from locally quarried stone in an area once prospected by gold "49ers". The restored interiors retain their original wainscoting.

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Hotel La Rose, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 1996, dates back to 1907.

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A member of Historic Hotels of America since 1996, Hotel La Rose is a wonderful vacation getaway in downtown Santa Rosa. A cherished local landmark for more than a century, this outstanding historic building was first constructed in the early 1900s by hotelier Bautista Bettini. Bettini had experienced some incredible success in Santa Rosa’s hospitality industry, operating a well-renowned business called the “St. Rose Hotel” during the height of the Gilded Age. Santa Rosa itself has emerged as one of California’s exclusive holiday destinations following the arrival of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in the 1870s. All kinds of passenger traffic flooded into the city from major metropolitan centers like San Francisco, inspiring individuals like Bettini to open brilliant hotels that would provide for their every comfort. But commercial travel along the railroads encouraged even more visitation to the city, as various professionals accompanied the influx of new goods that filled the local trainyards. Bettini’s hotel subsequently prospered for decades, until a massive earthquake destroyed it—and the rest of Santa Rosa—in 1906. Undeterred, he resolved to replace his beloved St. Rose Hotel with a new structure that would be far more durable. Selecting a plot of land at the corner of Wilson and Fifth Streets in Santa Rosa’s “Railroad Square,” Bettini hired the Italian architect Peter Maroni to spearhead the design effort.

Maroni then formed a team with three other Italian architects—Natale Forni, Massimo Galeazzi, and Angelo Sodini—to ultimately construct Bettini’s nascent hotel. The men decided to erect the building out of stone to ensure that it could withstand any future natural disasters. The stone itself was mined directly from Peter Maroni’s quarry to the easy of the city, with horse-drawn carriages moving the material directly to the jobsite. Craftsmen then cut the stone down considerably, so that only two men were needed to put them into place. When the building finally debuted a year later as the “Hotel La Rose,” it became an overnight sensation among travelers passing through Santa Rosa’s railway station. It stood four stories tall and featured some of the finest Georgian Revival-style architecture in the Sonoma Valley. Bettini himself had spared no expense in building his beautiful new hotel, as the final cost of construction went well north of $35,000. The Hotel La Rose quickly became one of the most sought-after destinations in all of Northern California, with hundreds of tourists booking guestrooms every year. Then, in 1943, legendary director Alfred Hitchcock included the Hotel La Rose in his renowned psychological thriller, Shadow of a Doubt. Its grand prestige even afforded it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places during the 1970s. Hotel La Rose today is still among the best holiday destinations in California’s Wine Country. Few places in the region can truly rival the brilliance of this magnificent historic hotel.

  • About the Location +

    Santa Rosa is deep within the heart of California’s world-renowned Wine Country. Just over an hour north of San Francisco, this beautiful city is one of the region’s most beloved holiday destinations. But centuries before the Santa Rosa was ever founded, a tribe of Pomo Indians known as the “Bitakomtara” inhabited the land. The Bitakomtara were fiercely protective of the region, strictly controlling the movements of whomever sought passage through the territory. Archeological evidence suggests that the Bitakomtara frequented the vicinity of today’s Spring Lake Regional Park to practice ceremonial rituals and to seek refuge from harsh weather. Yet, by the time the first Europeans arrived in the early 19th century, the Bitakomtara had largely disappeared from the area. Those first immigrants were a mixture of Spanish and Mexican colonists, who had traveled north from Sonoma and other places to raise livestock. But the first permanent settlement to emerge at the site of modern-day Santa Rosa was the ranch of the Carrillo family. A mighty clan of local landowners known as “Californios,” the Carrillos themselves were in-laws to the famous Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. (Vallejo himself was a prominent Mexican statesman that influenced the politics of the region for years.) Using their political connections, they obtained a plot of land just east of what would become the modern nucleus of downtown Santa Rosa. The family then developed a sprawling cattle ranch called the “Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rose,” which revolved around a beautiful adobe dwelling.

    The Carrillos remained on their farm for some time, even after the entire region transitioned to American control in the wake of the Mexican-American War. In the years that immediately followed, Julio Carrillo began considering plans to develop a small town near his family’s ranch, even going as far as to create a few street grids. He finally selected one to his liking, which centered on a public plaza later known as “Old Courthouse Square.” Named “Santa Rosa” after St. Rose of Lima, the town’s population soon swelled with Mexican nationals and American pioneers. Together, they raised new residences and businesses in downtown Santa Rosa that gave it the appearance of an actual town. Santa Rosa gained more legitimacy in the mid-1850s, when Wells Fargo opened up a company post office. The settlement had grown so large that it had morphed into a city seemingly overnight! The State of California even felt compelled to recognize its newfound status, incorporating it as the “City of Santa Rosa” in 1868. Driving its population growth was the community’s emergence as an important economic hub in the Sonoma Valley. The arrival of the railroads a decade later further solidified its role as a commercial center, starting with the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The increase of both passenger and commercial traffic into Santa Rosa inspired many local merchants to create a series of factories, warehouses, and storefronts that all serviced the railway. Even some aspiring hoteliers—including Bautista Bettini—opened a few hotels, too. As such, the new commercial development became known locally as “Railroad Square.”

    In 1906, Santa Rosa suffered greatly from a massive earthquake—the same one that infamously decimated most of San Francisco. But despite the calamity caused by the event, the townspeople rallied and rebuilt Santa Rosa. The city continued to develop at a rapid pace throughout the duration of the 20th century, with World War II having a particularly positive effect. The U.S. Navy specifically chose Santa Rosa to serve as the location for a major airbase called the “Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Santa Rosa” in 1943. While the facility is no longer active, the airfield teemed with activity at the time. It specifically supported the training operations of nearly two dozen squadrons of military-grade aircraft, including fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo planes. Furthermore, thousands of servicemen and women relocated to the area, leading to a construction boon that lasted for several years. The military continued to invest heavily into Santa Rosa, selecting the city to act as one of its eight regional headquarters for its “Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) eventually replaced the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization in 1979, thus, ending the federal government’s direct involvement with the city. Nevertheless, Santa Rosa continues to be among the most prolific communities in the Sonoma Valley. Today, it currently functions as the northern “gateway” into California Wine Country. Many people visit the city every year to gain access to the many spectacular vineyards that dot the local landscape, as well as the outstanding redwood forests that reside nearby.


  • About the Architecture +

    Many architectural historians today regard the Hotel La Rose to be an engineering masterpiece. Most cite the building’s brilliant Georgian Revival-style architecture and its intricate layout as its most endearing qualities. Even the U.S. Department of the Interior has recognized its unique structural importance, stating that it was “a significant representative of the adaptation of indigenous stone for use in commercial buildings in Santa Rosa.” Furthermore, the agency revealed that the Hotel La Rose was also “one of the major accomplishments of the Italian stonemasons of Sonoma County working around the turn of the 20th century.” The stonemasons who the U.S. Department of the Interior referenced were architects Peter Maroni, Natale Forni, Massimo Galeazzi, Angelo Sodini, and the dozens of craftsmen who worked under their supervision. All hailed from Northern Italy and were reputed for their work on other stone buildings throughout Sonoma County. In 1906, the four men had been hired by Bautista Bettini to create a new hotel that would possess the ability to resist even the worst natural disasters. As such, the men suggested building the majority of the edifice out of stone, with emphasis placed upon the exterior façade. The stone used to construct the Hotel La Rose came directly from a quarry operated by Peter Maroni just to the east of Santa Rosa. Horse-drawn wagons subsequently picked up the materials and carried them directly to the jobsite. Italian masons then cut the stone down considerably, so that only two men were needed to put them into place.

    The four Italian architects specifically used the stone to create incredibly thick walls, which measured between 20 and 24 inches in density. All the walls were “laid up” in four units of coursed range Ashlar that rested upon beaded mortar joints. Interestingly, the stonemasons engraved the hotel’s entire name onto a unique, horizontal band of stone that differed significantly from the other kinds used to create the main portion of the exterior. A metal roof covered the top of the building, as well, which Maroni and his colleagues sheathed with wood paneling and gablet ends. Meanwhile, the eaves of the structure featured boxed cornices in the modillioned design aesthetic. The architects also placed the exterior upon a “U-shaped” foundation with dimensions that measured 62 feet by 80 feet. Once inside the main floorplan, the interior contained wooden-framed floors and walls that typically had finishes of fine plaster and lath. Redwood, in particular, was a common sight throughout the building, present everywhere from the guestroom doors to the wainscoting that existed in the corridors. The main stairwell had beautiful open balustrades with square newel posts and baluster members, as well. Double-hung windows resided in each one of the accommodations, while dormers windows were located in the attic. Bettini had clearly spared no expense in the year it took to construct the Hotel La Rose, spending a grand total of $35,000—close to a million dollars today!

    The Italian architects who worked on the Hotel La Rose chose Georgian Revival-style architectural as the source of their inspiration. Georgian Revival-style architecture itself is a subset of a much more prominent architectural form known as “Colonial Revival.” Colonial Revival architecture today is perhaps the most widely used building form in the entire United States. It reached its zenith at the height of the Gilded Age, where countless Americans turned to the aesthetic to celebrate what they feared was America’s disappearing past. The movement came about in the aftermath of the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, in which people from across the country traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the American Revolution. Many of the exhibitors chose to display cultural representations of 18th-century America, encouraging millions of people across the country to preserve the nation’s history. Architects were among those inspired, who looked to revitalize the design principles of colonial English and Dutch homes. This gradually gave way to a larger embrace of Georgian and Federal-style architecture, which focused exclusively on the country’s formative years. As such, structures built in the style of Colonial Revival architecture—as well as the Georgian Revival-style—featured such components as pilasters, brickwork, and modest, double-hung windows. Symmetrical designs defined their façades, anchored by a central, pedimented front door and simplistic portico. Gable roofs typically topped the buildings, although hipped and gambrel forms were used, too. This building form remained immensely popular for years until largely petering out in late 20th century.


  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    Shadow of a Doubt (1943)


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