Since 1891, the Paso Robles Inn has had an important role in the rich and colorful history of Paso Robles, but for those 127 years, our guests have held just as significant a role in influencing our own story. At the Paso Robles Inn, your stories become our history. With every tale of mysterious happenings, famous guests, and new beginnings, you’ve helped us weave a century’s worth of precious memories into one story—one of community, camaraderie, and hospitality that we’re proud to call our own. In the spirit of welcoming the New Year, we’re looking back on some of the Inn’s most significant moments. Below, discover 3 things you didn’t know about the historic Paso Robles Inn.
1. Home of America’s “Most Wanted” Hot Springs
In 1868, two infamous outlaws, Frank and Jesse James, were busy robbing trains and getting themselves on the “Most Wanted” list until Jesse got shot and his lung wasn’t healing properly. In the spring, the duo headed to California to “cool off” and give Jesse a chance to heal. Frank made the overland journey by train and stage. Jesse, too weak for the overland journey, took a steam around the horn to San Francisco and then traveled by stage to San Luis Obispo County where they sought refuge with their uncle, Drury James, who was an original stockholder in the hotel. The hot springs in Paso Robles helped Jesse heal from his gunshot wounds and he and his brother were soon restless. Today, you can relax in one of the Inn’s Jesse James Two-Room Suites and discover the comfort of the spa tubs for yourself as you soak your worries away, just like Jesse did!
2. Where the Stars Align
In 1891, the Paso Robles Inn featured a seven-acre garden, nine-hole golf course, a library, a beauty salon, a barbershop, and various billiard and lounging rooms, making it the place to be. The hotel also offered an improved 20 by 40-foot hot springs plunge bath, which was considered one of the finest and most complete of its time in the United States. With so many luxurious amenities, it’s no surprise that the Inn was visited by notable stars like pianist Ignace Paderewski, boxing champion Jack Dempsey, US president Theodore Roosevelt, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Phoebe Apperson Hearst (the mother of William Randolph Hearst), and actors Douglas Fairbanks, Boris Karloff, Bob Hope, and Clark Gable. Even Major League baseball teams used Paso Robles as a spring training home, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox stayed at the hotel and soaked in the mineral hot springs to soothe tired muscles.
3. A Hero’s “Haunted” Hall
In December of 1940, tragedy struck. A spectacular fire completely destroyed the “fire-proof” El Paso de Robles Hotel. Guests staying the night escaped unharmed, although J.H. Emsley, the night clerk who discovered the fire, suffered a fatal heart attack immediately after sounding the alarm. On dark, stormy nights, the front desk at the Paso Robles Inn received mysterious calls from Room 1007, but there was never anyone on the other end of the line after the front desk clerk picked it up, and nobody in the room upon further investigation. Intrigued by the strangeness of the phone calls, Paul Wallace began rereading articles about the 1940 fire that destroyed the original hotel. He discovered that on the night of the fire, the 911 call went out around 9:05 PM, close to the time that Emsley sounded the alarm warning guests of the fire. Because of Emsley’s heroic action, every guest was evacuated from the hotel safely—except for Emsley. This leaves us to wonder, is Emsley still trying to keep everyone at the Paso Robles Inn safe from harm? Whatever the case may be, Room 1007 is one of the most highly requested rooms at the Paso Robles Inn, according to Wallace.