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Media Life

Snowy Auburn streetscape then. Not so much now

Snow scene shows Hotel Auburn, Lincoln Way in 1930s
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at

or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.  

  

Surprise.

That’s right. It’s Auburn.

Very rarely has it snowed like this in the last 30 years or so.

But this 1930s photo of Lincoln Way back in the days when the Auburn Promenade — the distinctive Mission Revival-style building prominently towering over the streetscape above the classic cars — was the Hotel Auburn.

A look back through the yellowed pages of bound AJ editions shows a building in the 1930s Depression Era that was humming with activity, despite the fact that very few people could rub two dimes together at the time.

But if they could come up with the coin, a veritable feast awaited at the Hotel Auburn. While we don’t have access to a Depression menu from the Hotel Auburn, a 1927 ad touted a 40-cent lunch plate with all the trimmings and a 75-cent chicken dinner on Sunday at the newly opened coffee shop you see the sign for in the black and white photo.

 

Reindeer on menu

Or maybe there was more exotic fare at Hotel Auburn when the photo was snapped.

A 1929 ad — pre-Rudolph — shows reindeer steaks on the menu. No price was published.

And if you look closely in the snow photo you can see a sign advertising the fact that you could also sidle up to a bar in the establishment for a Budweiser.

If you needed a place to stay, the Hotel Auburn could put you up in 1935 in a room for $5 a week or $18 a month.

Proprietor H.K. Davis was responsible for the success of the Hotel Auburn through most of the 1930s — and was likely the owner at the time the “then” photo was taken by an unknown photographer.

Davis had started out in Michigan as a cigar salesman and moved west to Winnemucca, Nev., where he was proprietor of the Overland Hotel and served in the state Assembly. After 18 years there, he moved farther west to Chico, where he operated the Oaks Hotel. In 1926, he bought the Hotel Auburn for $60,000.

By 1934, Davis was making changes at the 24-year-old Hotel Auburn, adding more room for parking in the back, paving what was the old tennis court on what we know today as Tennis Way.

Davis’ time as owner would end with his death at 68 in 1938. But the Hotel Auburn would live on.

 

Building lives on

In 1952, the new Zanzibar Room cocktail lounge would open with the Keys Orchestra providing music for dancing. In the mid-1970s, many a family would tuck into the Basque and Italian dinners at the hotel, served family style, with accordion music accompanying the repast.

And for nearly 30 years, current owner Len Ganz has retained the architecture and the ambience after transforming it into an office and commercial building, renamed the Auburn Promenade.

Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.